Five Great Cheap Mexican Dishes To Eat Now

Don't get the delicious red guajillo chile sauce on your sleeve. It will never wash out.

Ever since immigration from southern Mexico began in the 1980s due to prolonged drought, Mexican food around here has been getting better and better, as more fresh ingredients have been imported, and staples like tortillas and cheese began being manufactured here. The food remains remarkably inexpensive considering the quality of the ingredients (giant dark green poblano peppers, just-picked papalo leaves, hand-pulled Oaxacan cheese, an astounding range of dried peppers, etc., etc.), and the skill in preparation is as great as anything found in the city's finer restaurants. Here are five of our favorite dishes.

1. Chicken Enchiladas With Guajillo Chile Sauce -- This plate of food could not be simpler: a rich stock of ground red chiles and chicken fat enrobes enchiladas containing chicken and nothing else. The sauce has a burn, the chicken and cheese mellow the burn, and each bite flies down your gullet on wings of flavor. Down Town Bakery (69 First Avenue, 212-254-1757)

2. Milanesa de Res Cemita -- The iconic sandwich of Puebla arrives on a round seeded roll thickly layered with Oaxacan cheese, avocado, a beef wienerschnitzel, refried beans, papalo leaves, cilantro, and other smeared goodies. Wienerschnitzel? Yes, the Germans were all over Mexico in the 19th century, building railroads, and introducing beer and accordions, among other things (though the name implies an Italian etymology). Tulcingo del Valle Deli (665 Tenth Avenue, 212-262-5510)

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