On the way to a roof top bar a few weeks ago, Steph and I walked by a Mexican restaurant that had an A grade in the window. It reminded me of getting a torta from Rinconcito Mexicano because it seems that whenever you walk west of 8th avenue in Midtown, you start to get into better options for Mexican food. What I love about Ponche is that it bills itself as an authentic Mexican restaurant AND it has an A from the health department. How dare they upset my perception of the kind of grades a Mexican restaurant can receive? Seeing as I prefer my bunghole dry instead of wet, I thought it was worth a visit.
Lemme be also honest about what attracted me about this place... the take-out menu said there's "10% off on cash online" The discount decal on the menu is about as difficult to miss as tits in a New York City summer. But in practice, this wasn't really implemented. I will say though, the price on the take-out menu is not the same as the price on the dine-in menu. For example the El Ponche taco is $2.75 on the take-out menu, but $3.00 for dine-in. But whatever, you can ask about the discount if you want. I didn't think it made a difference since $3 is about the going rate for tacos in Manhattan anyway.
I got three tacos to try. The Pescado (fish) taco is a lightly tempura battered mahi-mahi with pickled cabbage, and a chipotle remoulade. Don't ask me how authentic remoulades are south of the border. I figure if Taco Bell hasn't done it, it ain't fucking authentic. Don't lie to me bitches. Another thing of note is that I know two corn tortilla per taco is the norm but actually some tacos at Ponche use flour tortilla like the pescado taco.
Two things struck me about the fish taco. One, I ordered it and it came within two or three minutes. I ordered, the dude screamed out the order to the kitchen, I paid, and boom. My taco was ready. You can't fry that fast. This tells me some fish tacos are pre-fried during lunch time. Two. The fish had an off taste on the first bite. I don't know if that was just my mind playing tricks on me. Either way, I found the battered crust to be insufficient in providing crunch, and the fish taco to be lacking overall. If I'm going for a fish taco, I'll go to Dorado Tacos
The Carnitas Borrachas taco featured Puebla-style shredded pork and a dainty schmear of watery avocado sauce. I wouldn't call it guacamole exactly... since I've mashed up avocados at home before, and this looked a bit runnier than pure mashed avocados. This was a tasty taco though. There's nothing like slow cooked meat in a taco since the meat is soft and not chewy at all. If you got this in a food truck, you'd be happy. But it actually was outshadowed by their namesake taco, El Ponche.
Similar to the carnitas taco, El Ponche is a taco with a slowly cooked protein. It's listed as a Oaxaca style pulled pork on a flour tortilla. You can tell from the pictures that the color between the two pork tacos are different. If the Carnitas Borrachas taco is an ally-oop, El Ponche taco is the no-look pass reverse ally-oop. It might produce similar results, but the latter is just a bit better. It's delicious. Get it.
Ponche is a great option for those who aren't afraid to trek out between 9th and 10th avenue. The tacos are first-rate. The restaurant would even claim they are authentic. I wouldn't know anything about that. The clientele in the small-ish restaurant that seats maybe 20, didn't look to have many Latino diners. But I've come to realize that even though clientele says a lot about your restaurant, where you choose to put a restaurant says a lot about who you want your clientele to be...
Meanwhile, I broke my ear-bud headphones again. It's now the fifth one that I've wrecked in two years. There's something about cheapie $10 dollar skullcandies and no-name-brands that just can't get it done. I'm now wondering if it's better to get something like this Klipsch IMAGE S4 for $70 dollars and go all out. It comes with a two year warranty. Which means if it breaks, I get a new one! Has anyone used warranty on a pair of headphones before? Or has anyone owned Klipsch before?
420 W 49th St.
New York, NY 10019
(I invite you to follow me on Twitter so you can get more updates.)