2013-06-26 / Restaurant of the Week


On a glorious, early summer evening bathed in golden beams from the late day sun, the outdoor patio at Mojave felt like an oasis from the hectic pace of life in New York. The patio was nearly full of contented people sipping on frosty margaritas, chatting, and dining on Mojave’s exceptionally fresh, delicious Mexican and Southwestern cuisine. Owner Susan McCarthy and General Manager Genti ensure the highest quality in all aspects of Mojave and make everyone feel welcome here.

Inside, the warm, sensuous dining room with its whitewashed walls, wood ceiling and candelabra was also abuzz with Happy Hour guests enjoying a very impressive selection of tequilas, margaritas, mojitos, beer and wine. The Happy Hour takes place Monday to Thursday from 4pm to 7pm and a secret Happy Hour starts up from 11pm to 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. During Happy Hour, margaritas and sangritas cost just $5 and beers are $3. Wednesday nights feature live music in the dining room with $5 margaritas all night long. Join the very popular Mojave Birthday Club where if you bring six people to celebrate your birthday the guest of honor drinks free all night and gets a cool Mojave t-shirt. If you bring 10 people, you’ll drink and eat for free! See their Web site for details.

We started with a refreshing sangrita cocktail, swirled with frozen margarita, and a margarita on the rocks infused with fresh blood orange puree. You may also add pomegranate, strawberry, mango or passion fruit puree to your margarita and have it on the rocks, straight up, or frozen. Whichever you choose, they are so refreshing, made with high quality tequila and spirits.

Daniel, our courteous server, recommended some of the house favorite appetizers and we were thrilled to try their award-winning chicken empanadas. These tender, flaky triangles of pastry are filled with tender, shredded chicken, roasted tomatoes, cilantro, and three cheeses and come five to an order, ideal for sharing ($10). Next we tried another popular choice: tuna cruda. High quality tuna tartar is chopped and tossed with roasted corn, avocado, cilantro and lime juice on a bed of sliced cucumber for a light, refreshing starter. Corn-crusted calamari gets a kick from the crunch and the chipotle marinara sauce ($12). Queso fundido is a savory dip of melted cheese, blue crab, spinach and chipotle. You can also order these tasty dishes at the bar for light dining and sharing with friends. Executive chef Santiago Moran does an excellent job with classic Mexican fare including the ever popular fajitas, enchiladas, fresh made tacos, and fresh fish dishes. Tacos are made with soft flour tortillas filled with tender skirt steak, juicy gulf shrimp marinated in chipotle, and my personal favorite fish tacos. Flavorful grilled salmon is placed inside tortillas along with mango tomatillo salsa, fresh cilantro and lime juice, creating a vibrant burst of flavors on the palate. Fajitas are available with tender skirt steak, free range chicken, chipotle shrimp, or portobello mushrooms and served with plenty of tortillas, rice, pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream so you can build your own fajita at your table. Quesadillas are generously filled with a variety of fillings such as crab, Poblano chilis, roasted corn and portobello mushroom on a whole wheat tortilla ($15). The grilled adobo chicken quesadilla makes a great entrée or an appetizer to share among two or three people. There are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu at Mojave, including the roasted portobello mushroom and cheese quesadilla, as well as the new vegan burger served on a turnip bun, and the spinach empanadas, to name a few.

My dining partner’s stuffed shrimp was outrageously delicious and generously sized. Several giant, plump shrimp are stuffed with flavorful crabmeat stuffing, resting on a bed of creamy, toothsome risotto with mushrooms and asparagus. Barbecued mahi-mahi is served with yellow pepper and cilantro pesto and tomatillo mango salsa. Enchiladas al carbon are a house specialty, combining grilled skirt steak and blue corn tortillas, topped with adobo, chili and cheese. Keep it simple with a New York Angus steak served with purple mashed potatoes, asparagus, and Mojave’s own steak sauce.

To counterbalance the savory flavors of Mexican cuisine, there’s a great selection of desserts to sweeten your palate. We shared a molten chocolate soufflé with a melted center of decadent chocolate scented with cinnamon…very traditional. Mexican chocolate fondue comes with fresh fruit for dipping, or try a wedge of creamy cheesecake with guava sauce.

Mojave is so conveniently located, just below the “N” train Ditmars Boulevard station, yet it provides an oasis from the outside world. They’re open seven days a week for lunch and dinner from 11am to 11pm Sunday to Thursday, and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Try the ‘bottomless’ brunch served on Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm. For $24.95, enjoy a fabulous brunch entrée, coffee or tea, and 1.5 hours of brunch cocktails. Join the birthday club and have a party with your friends. Every night is a party at Mojave with great drinks, food, and atmosphere.

22-36 31st Street  Astoria


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