It’s been almost five years since I moved to Manhattan — that’s five years of living with Chris, five years since I lived in Elmhurst, Queens, and also, five years since I visited my beloved Tortilleria Nixtamal in Corona, Queens. When I used to go to Nixtamal, I took a quick bus ride about 20 minutes to get from my apartment to the small restaurant, which used to be very small, humble, and unassuming. I don’t remember their accepting credit cards the first or second time I visited, but now they do. In the last several months, they’ve gone through some pretty extensive renovation according to what my server said today, and the interior and exterior are so different than what this place used to be. The tiling is really colorful and fancy, just like in slightly nicer Mexican restaurants and kitchens in Mexico. The service is all warm and friendly, and the staff is so much larger than it used to be. The feel is still the same as before, just more colorful and ornate now.
The prices have gone up on everything except the freshly made tortillas, which are still $2/pound. But the food is just as tasty as I remember. Their tortillas are just as perfect and authentic as I had in Mexico, as they’re made from fresh corn ground up in their trusty masa machine that’s on display right in the window (in Mexico, they’d never tolerate the cornmeal-based tortillas most grocery stores and restaurants use here). The al pastor has all the right flavors and crunchy bits as I remember, without much fat or gristle. And the freshly steamed tamales are still the best I’ve had in the U.S. I just couldn’t believe exactly how popular they have gotten; it was around 2pm on a Thursday today, and after I was seated, an actual wait formed outside the restaurant! It was a mix of tourists, locals, and others who clearly came from other boroughs and had never been to Corona before.
I love this place. And so do so many other people now.