2015-04-01 / Restaurant of the Week

EL COYOTE

El Coyote Restaurant opened in Forest Hills last September, after years of success in its two locations in Connecticut, and one in Jackson Heights at 80- 18 Northern Blvd. Now, El Coyote’s gourmet Mexican cuisine is available to Forest Hills residents and beyond, at its convenient, pleasant location on the upper level of a retail center overlooking Austin Street. The space has been totally renovated to create three separate dining areas with raisin-colored walls, stacked stone columns, soft lighting and tables dressed in crisp linens. You’ll be warmly greeted by owner Carlos Axilote and the friendly manager Adrian, and escorted to a comfortable table or the convivial bar.

Don’t be an April Fool and run, don’t walk, to El Coyote for their fabulous Happy Hour offered Monday to Wednesday all day long, Thursdays and Fridays from 4-8pm at the bar only, and Saturday and Sunday from 2-6pm at the bar. With $4 margaritas and sangria and great deals on beers, who can resist? The Happy Hour nibbles menu has El Coyote appetizer minis for just $3!

Once settled in to our banquette table, we immediately ordered some of El Coyote’s guacamole, which we’d heard was out of this world. In fact it is prepared table-side by the expert wait staff and whether you like it mild, medium, or hot, this guacamole is so fresh and ideal for scooping up with their own tortilla chips or some warm mini tortillas that were delivered to our table. Next came the drinks that helped make El Coyote famous. The ‘Lime Boat’ Margarita is made from freshly squeezed limes, not a sweet, syrupy mix, like at other places. The floating lime in your glass holds quality tequila and a little Mexican flag, which is very festive and the whole concoction is oh so delicious and refreshing. So is the Coyoterita, another house specialty made with fine Patron tequila and fresh lime juice. Fruit daiquiris made with mango, banana, peach, and tamarind are popular, as are the mojitos, wines and Mexican beers.

The appetizers are perfectly portioned for sharing, sampling, and stimulating your taste buds. The quesadillas are made from light, fluffy, flour tortillas filled with your choice of cheese, chicken, or steak. We loved the ceviche, or cold seafood salad made with citrus marinated shrimp and white fish with red onion and fragrant cilantro ($11.95). Queso fundido is melted Mexican cheese with crumbled chorizo sausage and Poblano peppers for a unique dish, scooped up with tortilla chips ($8.95). Mini empanadas are tender, savory pastries filled with mildly spiced, ground beef and the nachos are a crowd pleaser.

Dinner at El Coyote is very special because this is not a restaurant serving pre-made rice and beans. Each dish at El Coyote is prepared to order using traditional recipes. A fine example is the chiles rellenos, or stuffed, roasted Poblano peppers filled with tender, shredded chicken, cheese, shrimp, or beef. My order came with two peppers and I had two different fillings to sample, both were flavorful and mildly seasoned. El Coyote’s fajitas are one of the most popular dishes, served sizzling with steak, shrimp, chicken or vegetables and a stack of warm, flour tortillas, guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo ($14.95 and up). If you can’t decide between an enchilada, burrito, or taco, simply order a Combo Mexicano and have one of each, done the traditional way.

If you like meat, El Coyote has plenty of tempting options, such as the churrasco, a sizzling hot skirt steak marinated with fresh herbs and grilled to your liking, accompanied by aromatic chimmichurri sauce ($21.95). My companion was kind enough to let me sample his dish and still, there was some to take home for lunch the next day, when it tasted just as good! How about a melt-in-your-mouth pork shoulder, rubbed with achiote spice, wrapped in banana leaves, and slow-cooked for hours? The result is a fork-tender hunk of pork that goes so well with the fresh rice and beans offered on the side. Braised pork shank called “Mixiote Poblano” is another succulent dish to pair up with sides such as sweet or savory plantains, house salad, or creamy mashed potatoes.

“Mole” is a traditional Mexican sauce made with raisins, cinnamon, cocoa, and chilis that gives the chicken in Mole Poblano its distinctive flavor ($14.95). Boneless chicken breast sautéed with garlic and white wine keeps it simple, and there are plenty of fish and seafood dishes such as Atlantic salmon marinated in citrus juices and spices, red snapper filet with garlic and white wine, and jumbo shrimp “al ajillo” with a lethal amount of garlic and herbs.

After you’ve eaten all you can possibly eat, you’ll be tempted with cool, creamy, coconut flan, tres leches cake, and sopapillas, which are fried tortillas sprinkled with cinnamon and honey, served with vanilla ice cream. The coffee is excellent too and we were treated to an after dinner hot, spiced wine to finish the meal…a nice touch.

The service at El Coyote is very efficient and friendly and I can’t wait to try Brunch on Saturday and Sunday. For just $15 you can have grilled steak and eggs, crab cake sandwiches, traditional pork stew or huevos rancheros and more. The price includes a brunch cocktail too and great coffee. The lunch special costs only $11 so visit during the week and take a break from the work day. El Coyote can accommodate a large group of about 30 people so start thinking about your next birthday party or office gathering. There’s free delivery too so call in your order.

El Coyote serves traditional, gourmet quality Mexican cuisine in Connecticut, Jackson Heights, and now Forest Hills. Visit their website for details about all the locations, photos and menus. With great service, prices, and a pleasant, comfortable atmosphere, El Coyote is numero uno.

70-09 Austin Street, 2nd floor
Forest Hills • 718.268.0777

www.elcoyotemexico.com

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