Various NYC eateries have tamed Mexico City’s classic portable snacks, brought them indoors and even dressed them up a bit. A fanccier, East Village version of a fonda, La Palapa serves the kind of homestyle food co-owner Barbara Sibley remembers from her Mexico City childhood. Elote del mercado (“market corn,” $3.95) is juicy, bursting corn on the cob slathered with mayonniase, lime, ground pequin chile and queso fresco (fresh, mild cheese).
La Palapa serves a stellar example of the laborious sauce, which takes three days to make and requires separate roastings of the chilies, seeds, and spices (no small feat, when ingredients include peanuts, almonds, cinnamon, raisins, sweet plantain and licorice-flavored avocado leaves). The finished product has fruity overtones, which pair well with muscovy duck breast ($17) and a subtle nutty essence that emerges when served over tiny meatless tamales.