2009-05-06 / Restaurant of the Week

Lune de juarez..fine mexican cuisine

By Teresa Barile

Every night is a fiesta at Luna de Juarez, where the fresh fruit margaritas and cocktails complement the authentic interior cuisine of Mexico. Located on a prominent corner at Steinway Street and 28th Avenue, Luna de Juarez is a great place to meet friends or family for an after work margarita at the recession proof price of just $7, served with a basket of warm, crunchy tortilla chips. Besides the excellent food, there is live Latin jazz on

 
Friday and Saturday evenings as well as free

salsa and mambo classes every other Thursday from 8pm to 9pm. The next free dance night is on May 14th. Hugo and Gloria Juarez, the friendly and gracious hosts, welcome you for lunch or dinner during the week and a fabulous Mexican buffet brunch served on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:30pm to 4:00pm, where you'll find at least 6 or 7 classic items on the table, along with side dishes and a complimentary mimosa for just $11.95.

Interior Mexican cuisine differs from the "Tex-Mex" version in that it relies on centuries old recipes and the finest ingredients, herbs and spices. Your food will not be smothered in refried beans and jack cheese. Instead, open your palate to the idea of tender meats and seafood marinated in citrus, mild chilies and herbs. After sipping on huge glasses of Luna's special margarita, my dining companion and I shared an appetizer of smoky chorizo sausage, chopped and sauteed with diced potatoes in a lightly spiced sauce ($6.95). Crisp, delicate flautas are filled with either chicken or beef and spices, then topped with lettuce, sour cream and queso fresco, a traditional, mild cheese from Mexico. It's important to note that dishes here are prepared with mild spices, but can be turned up a notch, at your request. Chef Benita Arreola has years of experience in her native Mexico, working at some of the finest hotels and proudly makes nearly everything on the menu from scratch. Her empanadas are tasty parcels of flaky pastry filled with seasoned beef, shredded chicken or vegetables. Two types of ceviche, or marinated seafood salad, are featured; one with a tangy lime and cilantro marinade, the other with tomato and lime. Both are excellent and great to share. Tender calamares are batter dipped and fried until golden, then served with their signature chipotle sauce ($7.95). Grilled shrimp salad tossed over mixed greens is dressed in cilantro vinaigrette. Black bean soup, tortilla soup and chicken soup are all made from scratch each day and could be a meal in themselves.

 
Entrees at Luna de Juarez include meat, seafood and vegetable dishes to suit everyone's tastes. Chilies rellenos are mild poblano chilies filled with either mixed seafood sauteed in white wine, or filled with fresh Oaxaca cheese. These generously sized peppers are then quickly fried and topped with zesty salsa and one pepper can be shared as an appetizer. Cochinita Pibil is a new addition to the menu which I highly recommend. Tender pork is marinated for 24 hours, then roasted and shredded and served with seasoned rice and flour tortillas to wrap it all up. The succulent meat was so tender and perfectly seasoned and the generous serving provided lunch the next day. Grilled lamb chops or chuletas are marinated in herbs and grilled to perfection. Another lamb dish called Mixiote is cut into chunks and marinated with peppers and adobe spices then cooked and served with yellow rice, beans, fresh guacamole and warm tortillas. Grilled, tender pork loin is prepared similarly and makes a satisfying meal ($18.95). Meat eaters will love tampiquena, a typical dish of grilled skirt steak, that is so tender and juicy, served with rice, beans, guacamole, enchilada and peppers ($19.95). Pollo al mole Poblano is a native dish that uses cocoa as its main ingredient for the memorable sauce. If you've never tried mole, I suggest you try it here, where it is authentically made. With some meat entrees, you'll get a choice of two side dishes such as yellow rice, beans, sweet plantains, tostones, mashed potatoes or salad.

 

 
Luna de Juarez serves wonderful fish dishes as well, such as fresh salmon prepared with a unique pepper that grows on trees for a unique taste sensation. Tilapia fillet cuts with a fork and is sauteed with garlic and white wine that tastes delicious over rice ($18.95).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you're looking for more familiar Mexican fare, Luna de Juarez prepares America's most popular Mexican items such as fajitas, tacos and burritos, but with a traditional touch. For example, tacos al pastor are filled with tender, shredded loin of pork, deliciously marinated in pineapple juice, herbs and spices that will make you forget any run-of-the-mill taco you've had before.

Ask about their decadent desserts such as the tres leches cake made with three kinds of milk, tender crepes filled with Mexican caramel called cajeta or coconut flan, accompanied by delicious coffee and an after dinner cordial.

Luna de Juarez is open seven days a week for brunch, lunch and dinner, from 11am to 11pm on weeknights and 2am on weekends. Make reservations now for a special Mother's Day brunch. Don't forget Latin Jazz on Friday and Saturday nights and free salsa and mambo classes every other Thursday. For time-honored Mexican cuisine, fresh fruit margaritas,cocktails, excellent service and a comfortable, handsome dining room, visit Luna de Juarez. In warm weather the outdoor patio is open. Vamos a Luna de Juarez!

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