Tag Archives: Mojave

Endless summer — and drinks — at Mojave


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Bradley Hawks

BRADLEY HAWKS 

Bottomless and outdoors are two words that, when combined, always cause a stir. Keep your pants on — we aren’t suggesting dropping your trousers. We are talking about the new bottomless brunch at Mojave on 31st Street near Ditmars.

The recently renovated space features a fantastic new bar stretching a majestic span up by the front windows, which is the source of mimosas, Bloody Marys, sangrias and margaritas that can flow endlessly for an hour and a half of your choosing on the weekends between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Step beyond the bar and the expansive candlelit dining room, wave at the chef as you pass the kitchen, and get ready for one of the most beautiful and spacious gated patios in the neighborhood. Seating is available in the thatched hut shade, or gulp up your Vitamin D direct from the source. On a sunny day alongside the water fountain, the drinks and the decor will transport you to a south-of-the-border getaway, but the real gems are the plates that come from the kitchen.

Guacamole is prepared en molcajete, but you can add lumps of crabmeat or even tiny bits of diced mango, pineapple and habanero.

Or choose your egg-zact favorite preparation of uovo, with the crab benedict, huevos rancheros, or the hash brown benedict — which arrives swimming in sweet tomatillo and crowned with a dash of avocado and mango relish.

Service is exceptional, and drinks are refilled often without request. You can order a single cocktail for $16.95, or endless drinks for $27.95, both of which include coffee or tea.

The dining experience beyond brunch is certainly no less of a fiesta, beginning with an order of tequila-infused queso fundido. Sizzling skillets of bubbling cheese are laced with crabmeat, chorizo, or spinach and mushrooms. Homemade empanadas are available in everything but the typical combinations, like the roasted plantain with a trio of cheeses and black beans.

Tacos teeter on the unique end of the spectrum as well, with blue-corn-crusted fried oysters stealing the spotlight, brightened with a pina salsa and chipotle crema. The pasilla chili-braised short rib taco with queso Oaxaca and pico de gallo is a close second.

The dinner entrees are where Mojave shines the brightest, from the mole-kissed duck enchiladas topped with cactus and tequila cream to the ridiculously tender beer-braised short ribs and the yellow mole-blanketed salmon served with roasted corn mash. My go-to favorite, which has endured several menu changes, is the playfully delicious shepherd’s pie. Corkscrew spirals of cavatapi are tossed in a spicy blend of tender pork and medallions of beef that have been braised in wine, and layered with golden crusted jack cheese.

But do not forget the Serranito Burger. Ten ounces of grilled sirloin is stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese, serrano peppers, cilantro and chihuahua cheese, all garnished with lettuce, tomato and a rich Gorgonzola cream.

Now that is the kind of fiesta that is usually followed by a sweet siesta.

Mojave Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar
22-36 31st St., Astoria
718-545-4100

 

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Global lime shortage squeezes Queens bars, restaurants


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Sophia Rosenbaum

SOPHIA ROSENBAUM

Brother, can you spare a lime?

Frequent customers at El Rey Del Taco truck may be confused when they open the Styrofoam container with their tacos to find a wedge of lemon, instead of lime, in their trays.

Limes are too expensive for the taco truck to afford right now, as a global lime shortage is affecting restaurants and bars throughout Queens. Most of the limes used in the U.S. come from Mexico, where heavy rains and an infectious tree disease affecting the lime crop have forced lime prices to quadruple over the past few months.

“Unfortunately, Mexico received some heavy rains that destroyed a large amount of the lime crop, so with limited supplies, we are seeing lime prices skyrocket,” said Lindsey Pope, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Agriculture.

At local supermarkets like Key Food and Trade Fair, three limes cost $3. Three months ago, customers could buy a dozen limes for the same price. In the past few months, prices for 10-pound cases of limes have gone from about $30 to about $120.

While the taco truck can get away with replacing limes with lemons, some businesses are not afforded that option.

“We do a lot of custom cocktails, so not using fresh juice just isn’t an option for us,” said Vincent Vee, the beer and event manager at Station House in Forest Hills.

Vee said it’s common for prices of fresh fruit to fluctuate, especially when natural disasters like droughts affect Mexico, but that this lime shortage has been especially long.

“[The prices are] staying up a little longer than normal this time,” he said. “We’re hoping they come down soon.”

Like other restaurants and bars, Station House is limiting its lime garnishes and ensuring that its employees use the limes in the most efficient way possible.

Limes are an integral part of many Mexican dishes. Fresh lime juice makes up a third of most traditional margarita recipes.

Mojave, a Mexican restaurant in Astoria, is trying to limit its use of limes to the bare minimum.

“We’re just trying to compensate,” said Maya Stephanov, a bartender at Mojave.

Stephanov said that limes are a staple at almost every bar in the city, as a slice of lime is often paired with vodka cranberries, gin and tonics and other specialty drinks.

 

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Queens Restaurant Week a boon for local biz


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Bourbon Street

The ninth annual Queens Restaurant Week, where local eateries offer special menu deals, just wrapped up.

Running this year from October 8 to 11 and 15 to 18, the event is not just a celebration of the borough’s food; it is also a way for restaurants to bring in new customers.

It’s because of those new faces that many restaurants continue to take part in Queens Restaurant Week and new ones join the list, which grew to over 100 participants this year.

“They think it’s a good opportunity to reach out to the surrounding community and beyond, and connect to their customers, especially a customer that might not have considered them,” said Laura Altimari of Components of Fine Taste.

Her company does marketing and advertising for two Queens Restaurant Week participants: Bourbon Street in Bayside and Austin’s Steak and Ale House in Kew Gardens.

Both restaurants have been taking part in the promotion since it started.

Each year, said Altimari, the potential for repeat customers grows as Queens Restaurant Week gains popularity.

“They’ve definitely seen an increase from when it first began to now,” she said.

“It’s a good deal and we’re trying to attract a lot of new customers, said Bruno Dauti, manager of Mexican restaurant Mojave.

This year was the first time the Astoria dining establishment took part in Queens Restaurant Week.

The event’s suggested three-course prix-fixe menu price was $25, not including tax and tip, but restaurants were free to create their own specials.

Mojave offered an appetizer, entrée and a Sangrita cocktail for $25. Normally a customer would pay $35 for that meal, said Dauti.

He saw several new customers during Queens Restaurant Week and is hopeful that they’ll return.

“They also checked the regular menu. I was very surprised actually,” he said.

At Tony Roma’s in Bayside, staff saw about a 10 percent increase in customers, some of which were new faces.

“[Queens Restaurant Week] gives us a chance to give back to the community, to the local guests who come in and dine with us,” said general manager James Connaughton.

In this economy, he said, the customers “still manage to support us and keep doors open.”