If Pete Wells is looking for a surefire Mexican meal, he’ll go to Casa Enrique in Long Island City, he says in his latest review.
The Times critic admits that the restaurant isn’t the most interesting when compared to places like Cosme that take a more modern approach to Mexican cuisine — “but it’s the one where I’m more confident that if I went there tonight, everything would taste exactly the way it was supposed to,” he writes in the two-star review.
He commends chef Cosme Aguilar’s mole de Piaxtla for its “deep and complicated” sweetness, a dish that Eater critic Ryan Sutton also spoke highly of in his 2015 two-starred review. And the service, described as “not very good” back then, has apparently improved, with Wells now calling servers “practiced and professional.”
Wells also recommends Aguilar’s various seafood dishes, such as a black sea bass “seared to a crisp on the skin side.” He writes:
The seafood appetizers, on the other hand, are some of my favorite things at Casa Enrique: the delicately fried oysters sitting in a mayonnaise that gets its tangerine color from ground chiles; the ceviche, freshly tossed with lime and herbs; the crab tostadas, loaded with a thin slice or two of Serrano chile, chopped tomato, leaves of cilantro, smooth avocado salsa and a spoonful of crab meat, pure and clean; and the shrimp cocktail, which gets its roundness and slight richness, I think, from orange soda, just the way you’d hope.
Casa Enrique landed a Michelin star this year, and even though its menu has barely changed since its 2012 debut, Wells says the restaurant “keeps getting better.” Two stars.