Garcia’s Mexican Café
Not even torrential downpours could keep the crowd away from Garcia’s fine Mexican Café on Austin Street in Forest Hills. Just after a recent deluge we entered the always festive environs of Garcia’s where the Happy Hour was underway and the Yankees continued their game after rain delays. Manny Gutierrez, the amiable proprietor greets everyone with a smile while the barman mixes up the “Best Margarita in Queens”. Happy Hour specials run from 3 pm to 7 pm with margarita specials, $3 draft beer and $5 sangria at the bar. There are also fruity frozen daiquiris, piña coladas, and a refreshing cocktail called “canyon cooler” made with melon and coconut. There’s also a nice selection of beers and wines to enjoy.
At the bar, at a table, or outside on the open air patio, you can enjoy some of Garcia’s apertivos, or appetizers from the extensive menu. Nachos with the works or guacamole and chips are big crowd pleasers, naturally. This time we tried a new menu item; fresh mussels steamed in a garlicky tomato sauce with a kick from chipotle peppers ($10.95). This dish definitely has lots of flavor but is not hot on the palate and absolutely delicious. Camarones con coco are Garcia’s version of coconut shrimp, lightly fried, super crunchy and tender, served with a nice sweet potato puree and chipotle mayo for dipping ($10.95). One of the most popular dishes is blue corn crusted calamari, fried until crunchy, served with salsa and lime ($8.95). The bar crowd loves the calamari and the jalapeño poppers filled cheddar cheese, breaded and fried. Classic quesadillas are filled with your choice of cheese, beef or shredded chicken, grilled steak or vegetables and grilled to melted perfection. They are ideal for sharing, or can be ordered as a main course.
Try light, refreshing salad for dinner, composed of grilled, citrus glazed salmon on a bed of mixed greens, dressed in a light mango vinaigrette. Fresh avocado salad combines mixed greens with slices of ripe avocado, plum tomatoes, red onion, and fresh cilantro dressed in lime vinaigrette. The list of entrees includes classic Mexican specialties such as chimichangas, which are flour tortillas filled with chicken or beef, fried until golden and topped with sour cream and guacamole. Enchiladas are soft corn tortillas filled with beef or chicken, topped with chilis and cheese. Garcia’s sizzling fajitas are excellent and you may choose among sizzling chicken, steak, shrimp, vegetables, or a combination, brought to your table on a cast iron skillet accompanied by warm tortillas, pico de gallo and guacamole ($18.95-$21.95). Traditional tacos are made with crispy corn tortillas filled with beef, chicken, chili or guacamole, topped with lettuce, tomato and cheddar cheese. All of these classic dishes are served with Mexican rice and refried beans.
I enjoyed the chuletas chipotle, which are two juicy pork chops marinated in chipotle sauce and grilled to perfection. This generous helping was served with white rice and beans. Entraña is juicy skirt steak, grilled to order and served with Mexican rice, black beans and chimmichurri sauce ($22.95).
Carne all parilla is a 12-ounce sirloin steak that really satisfied. Each night a special fish of the day is prepared. Tonight it was fresh, flaky tilapia, sautéed with butter and lime juice that made for a light and delicious meal, accompanied by fluffy white rice and black beans. Shrimp Veracruz is sautéed with red sauce, garlic and white wine while shrimp in garlic sauce is a heady, delicious meal. Enjoy your appetizers while you wait a brief half hour for delectable paella valenciana; saffron infused rice with shrimp, clams, mussels, chicken, and chorizo sausage. Arroz con pollo can be made in that time as well and is well worth the wait.
Finish your meal with cool, creamy flan, traditional tres leches cake, decadent fried ice cream, or buñuelos, which are a type of Mexican donut, dusted with sugar and served with ice cream. Enjoy a cup of robust coffee and a splash of Kahlua liqueur and whipped cream for a caffe Mexicano.
Wednesday nights are particularly festive when karaoke begins at 9pm. All the guests are invited to sing their favorite songs, in English or Spanish. Garcia’s is open seven days a week for lunch from 12 pm to 4 pm and dinner until 10 pm on weekdays and until 11:30 pm on weekends. The bar remains open until later and karaoke continues until midnight on Wednesdays. At lunchtime there are great specials, sandwiches, salads and platters. It’s too hot to cook so visit Garcia’s Mexican Café and spice up your life!
70-09 Austin Street, 2nd floor
Forest Hills 718.575.0007