It feels a bit strange to go to a Mexican place in the heart of Chinatown. And it doesn’t get any less strange when you push through an unmarked door beneath the yellow neon sign of a non-existent Vietnamese restaurant, head down a long, dingy stairway and enter a low-ceilinged basement with soft lights and a blue-green twinkle. Here, Nacxitl Gaxiola features some uncommon Mexican dishes along with the ubiquitous tacos, enchiladas and quesadillas. But what really distinguishes Pulqueria, a venture from Christopher and Heather Tierney, who own Apothéke next door, is its namesake. “Pulque,” explains beverage director Isidro Gutierrez, “is the fermented liquid of the agave cactus.” About six percent alcohol, it was originally considered a nectar of the gods and drunk only by priests and nobles; it gradually spread throughout the population until beer came on the scene. At Pulqueria, it comes straight, the slightly milky-looking liquid packing a refreshing, if unusual, wallop of flavor that recalls the fermented funk of natto and sour green melon, or in curados, Tequila-fortified drinks based on pulque infused with guava, jicama and other ingredients. Either make the odd trip to Pulqueria entirely worthwhile.
11 Doyers St., New York, NY
This story appears in the print issue of April 2012.
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