At Taqueria El Sinaloense, Regional Dishes Worth an Early Trip

The egg binds the fluffy dried beef together, giving it creaminess. And while the machaca here may not have the full-force animal intensity it’s renowned for, it’s still flagrantly meaty and concentrated. The flour tortillas happily bear no resemblance to their anemic grocery-store counterparts; they’re chewy and thick enough to stand up to the meat, slightly muffling the salt.

The remaining tacos on the menu, built on two layers of corn tortillas (a nod to the rest of the country), might be remarkable in another neighborhood but are merely good here, in the shadow of the elevated train along Roosevelt Avenue, where a hundred taco carts and trucks bloom. Still, on a wintry night, it’s nice to take shelter for mouthfuls of cecina, a demolition of salt-cured beef with edges like candy; suadero, akin to brisket but cut closer to the udder, swollen with fat that turns to liquid instantly on the tongue; and al pastor, pork shaved thin and stung with chiles and pineapple, with a flavor close to burnt caramel, the darker side of sweet.

Photo

Elvía Castelán, the owner, grew up in Puebla in central Mexico but has family roots in Sinaloa.

Credit
Danny Ghitis for The New York Times

Of the house-made salsas, one is green and lively, a pleasant pick-me-up; the other is the color of sunset on a dying planet, and cataclysmic. Measure your life out in daubs.

Although Sinaloa, flanked by the Pacific Ocean, is known for its seafood, almost none was available on my visits. One night I was able to order shrimp, but the specimens that arrived were meek and pale, purged of any memory of the sea.

The waitress had tried to warn me. English is peripheral to life here, but the staff is patient with those who don’t speak Spanish. If it takes a while for the meal to unfold, note that there’s often only one person in the kitchen, visible through an open window — sometimes the waitress, doing double duty.

To end the night, there is arroz con leche, a cinnamon-laced rice pudding loose enough to drink, served in a ceramic mug with a bulge at the bottom. It’s warm and gently sweet, and the scent is half the comfort.

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