Guadalajara Deli (566 Seneca Avenue, Queens; 718-456-3698) operates without fanfare, in a square room, with tables pushed against grocery shelving. A neon blip from the digital jukebox portends bawdy tunes. There are bins of tamarind in their dry husks, armloads of dried chiles, and shrunken jamaica flowers waiting for tea. Mole poblano, refrigerated in plastic pint containers, is a collusion of chiles, seeds, and chocolate, concentrated to an ebony paste. Days of preparation have reduced the sauce to a base of an easy grab-and-go dinner; it can turn a couple pounds of chicken legs into a meal in twenty minutes.
Or, one can sit and have a meal from a menu that goes on for miles: eggs scrambled with cactus, joined by pools of beans flanked by tortillas; the antojitos — tostadas, huaraches, quesadillas, sopes, picaditas, chalupas, nachos. There are tacos, tortas, cemitas, tamales of course, and larger, sedate plates of braised, meaty things like chicharrón en salsa verde and chiles rellenos and orange rice.
Plates emerge, unhurried, from the hidden kitchen. The barbacoa is supple and pleasantly iron-rich. The pozole, after doctoring it to your liking…is exactly how you like it. For parties interested in the famed meat stew (birria) of Guadalajara on the menu, the owners are not from Guadalajara, but chose the name for how it rolls off of the tongue.
Guadalajara Deli, 566 Seneca Avenue, Ridgewood, New York 11385, 718-456-3698
Scarlett Lindeman is a Brooklyn-based writer covering the city’s best taquerias, fondas, and cantinas. She writes about Mexican food for the Voice. Follow her on Twitter @itsmescar