La Mexicana Grocery – Schenectady, NY

La Mexicana

I recently met some friends for lunch at La Mexicana, a grocery store and Mexican restaurant at 1759 State Street in Schenectady. While it’s not the Mexican restaurant in the capital region that I’ve been yearning for, it’s pretty damn great.

La Mexicana Grocery menu

Inside of the restaurant side of the building, there are about a dozen tables and a bar.

Tables at La Mexicana

Wall at La Mexicana

Bar at La Mexicana

The lunch menu has a number of items, many of which are commonly bastardized in American cuisine. This is where you go to have an authentic taco or burrito.

Menu La Mexicana page 1

Menu La Mexicana page 2

Menu La Mexicana page 3

We were quickly served warm chips with salsa.

Chips with salsa

Being that the tacos were so inexpensive ($2 a piece), I wanted to try two, one with lengua (beef tongue) and one with chorizo (Mexican sausage).

Taco de lengua
Taco de lengua

Taco de chorizo

The tacos are made on the smallest corn tortillas I ever seen, but, at $2 a piece, they’re still a great deal, especially since they double up the tortillas (a sign of a good taco as far as I’m concerned). They are garnished with the classic combo of raw onion and cilantro. The tongue was cooked perfectly, but lacked assertive seasoning. The chorizo was easily the best Mexican chorizo I’ve ever tasted. The flavors of chiles, garlic, and paprika were amped up to 11. Our server mentioned that it’s available in their grocery store and is brought in from a place in New Jersey.

I was celebrating a major fitness milestone, so I was going big that day. I ordered myself the biggest thing on the menu, tlayuda, basically Mexico’s version of pizza.

Tlayuda

At La Mexicana, the menu describes it as containing refried beans, avocado, cabbage, Mexican cheese, steak, al pastor and chorizo. Oddly, mine was missing the cabbage. I didn’t really notice until I was almost finished eating it.

Tlayuda at La Mexicana

And it’s big. To give you a scale reference, here’s a human being with it.

Tlayuda

There are so many layers to this dish that it’s almost difficult to begin describing!

I’ll start at the bottom and work my way up.

The tortilla is completely crisped up; if you’re not quick about eating it up, the last few bites do become a little dry.

The refried beans spread over the tortilla were very good. They had a decent flavor and weren’t pulverized to complete mush.

The cheese on top, Oaxaca, which is stringy like mozzarella but a little more dry, packed a nice creamy and salty bite. The avocado adds to the creaminess and brings some brightness to the party.

The meats on top were kind of a mixed bag. The chorizo, again was great. The steak was a little tough and very heavily salted. The al pastor (grilled pork) had a deep flavor from the marinade but was overcooked.

Aside from these technical glitches, the tlayuda is a pretty awesome deal, and is the perfect food for sharing, as it’s one of those things that you can set in the middle of the table and people can tear at over some good conversation.

Like I said, this isn’t exactly the Mexican restaurant of my dreams (where there are vats of molĂ© bubbling away in the kitchen), but it’s amazing to know there is a place around where you can sit down and eat some exceptional, classic Mexican street foods.


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8 thoughts on “La Mexicana Grocery – Schenectady, NY

  • KB @ Home-Baked Happiness

    The two-tortilla thing is a common thing, then? I was served tacos like that somewhere once, but I just assumed it was because the tacos were piled high enough that I could split them into two tacos each (which I did).


    • derryX

      It’s a very common and authentic touch. If I had to guess why, it’s probably because corn is a very sacred food in Mexico, and that they’d want as much tortilla as they can get in each bite.


  • -R.

    Next time, try the torta with either chicken or pulled pork. Easily one of the best sandwiches in the entire area in my opinion.

    While I really enjoy their food, it would be great if they could delve into a few more complex dishes like cochinita pibil, pozole and at least two moles. Once you go to Mexico and try a good mole, you’re pretty much ruined for life.


    • derryX

      I intend on going back and navigating through the entire menu! I’ll definitely try the torta next time. They do have pozole on the menu, but it’s only Fridays-Mondays (It’s on the back of the menu with beverages and desserts, but completely in Spanish.).

      Your second point has been my frustration with Mexican dining in the capital region, in general. I’ve been wishing for a Mexican restaurant that had such dishes ever since I moved up here in ’97. Until then, I was spoiled by my co-workers’ cooking. They’d bring me all types of things inspired by the cuisine in Puebla, Mexico, and I was spoiled. There is a restaurant in Middletown, NY (where I grew up) called El Bandito, that does a pretty amazing job, but a 2 hour drive is a bit of a trek just for dinner.

      I did mention to our server (who was super nice) that I’d love to see some Mole Poblano, and she said they’re thinking about expanding the menu. Fingers crossed!


  • gorgeousgoodness

    @KB, I always assumed that too!! Wait…so you’re not supposed to split that into two tacos, its simply one taco with two tortillas? Learn something every day.



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