I thought I’d ease back into things by writing about a place I’ve written about a bunch already – local Forest Hills favorite, 5 Burro. I can’t attest to the authenticity of its Mexican cuisine, but I can assure you that I’ve been going for close to 10 years now and the quality and consistency of the food has not wavered.
One of my favorite dishes to start with is their simple “Ensalada Mexicana” (translation: Mexican salad). I’m not sure what makes a salad Mexican or American or Chinese or what, but this one is comprised of crisp lettuce, tomato chunks, bell peppers, wedges of avocado, is lightly dressed all over then topped with a generous scoop of their pico de gallo (fresh salsa), which really elevates this to the next level. I’m one happy girl with a great salad, and this one hits the spot – fresh and light, and gives me peace of mind to eat all the pork I know I’m about to consume without feeling like I didn’t even eat a single vegetable.
My mother, brother and husband all ordered the dinner portion of steak burritos. I heard no complaints and know that my mom and brother order this every time they go, so I imagine it was the same as they expected – tender chunks of steak rolled in a large flour tortilla, which they each then topped with their choice of condiments. Served on the side of each is a healthy scoop of sour cream, guacamole, more of that awesome pico de gallo, a red-hued rice flecked with veggies, and refried beans topped with cotija cheese. (This was hubs’ first time there, but he seemed happy with his food as he powered down both burritos… while Mom and bro both took their 2nd one home. Actually, Mom didn’t even finish her first one…)
I am as predictable as anyone else – once I found this dish on the menu, I don’t believe I’ve strayed. Tacos al pastor, or as their menu cutely translates “tasty pork” tacos. Yesss! The pork IS really tasty, and topped with cilantro and raw onion. It’s served alongside the same accoutrements, but honestly, I usually eat the tacos as-is, with maybe a touch of sour cream – and save the rest of the sides to mix all together into one delicious mushy pile that I then shovel greedily into my mouth. I managed to get down 2 before calling it quits (I’d been “peer-pressured” into ordering the dinner portion, though I knew I’d only be able to eat 2 comfortably)… but I DID eat all of my sides, and some of hubby’s rice as well.
Happily, though it’s been a while since I went prior to this visit, the food remains consistently delicious, the prices true to its local roots, and we all left stuffed and satisfied.
I do want to note, however, that other people have complained to me in the past about service issues. While our server was lovely, friendly, and very enthusiastic, directly before I arrived, my brother had an unfortunate experience with a different staff member. We went on a Saturday afternoon, and apparently he tried to enter the restaurant at 11:57 am. It was super chilly outside. He pulled open the door and held it for my mother to enter, but before she could, a male staffer popped out and said “We don’t open until noon,” pulled the door closed and locked it shut. Given that they were set to open in a few minutes and it was in the 20s out, it would have been nice if they let them in to wait even if they couldn’t be seated or served (for example, if tables were still being set for service). I doubt my brother or mother would have complained if they were told politely that they couldn’t order yet – it was really, really cold out. I’ve worked in restaurants where people try to enter before we open — once I’ve explained that I can’t take their orders, the customers were generally happy to wait until I was done with my sidework to order. The whole shutting and locking the door in my brother and mother’s faces just really rubs me the wrong way.
**Lighting provided by bro (it’s really dark in there)
5 Burro Cafe
7205 Austin St
Forest Hills, NY 11375