>> Juquilita Laundromat & Deli | Eat the World NYC

31 December 2020

Juquilita Laundromat & Deli

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COVID-19 UPDATE: Juquilita is takeout only, unless you are doing your laundry and wolf down a taco on the side. The tiny store can get crowded and the kitchen is often backlogged, so it is best to call in orders ahead of time, or go for a walk while your food is prepared.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Written by Joseph Gessert, photographed by Liv Dillon.
Mexican food in New York City did not hit its stride until the past decade or so, following an influx of immigrants from Puebla and other states driven by NAFTA’s destabilization of the Mexican economy. Being new immigrants to a high-rent city, would-be restaurateurs have been resourceful—much of the best Mexican food in New York is cooked behind the deli counters of bodegas-cum-taquerias.
Staten Island’s Juquilita Laundromat & Deli goes a step deeper into the pool of resourcefulness. It started life as a simple coin laundry, which spawned a grocery store, and now hosts a taco counter making some of the best burritos on the island.
New York burritos suffer in comparison to their West Coast counterparts in part because most locally-manufactured flour tortillas are not big enough to make a proper Mission-style burrito, and most taquerias are not doing enough burrito business to justify making their own flour tortillas. Juquilita sidesteps this handicap by overlapping two Banderita-brand tortillas in a Venn diagram of deliciousness.
It does not hurt that their carnitas are top-notch, or that they generally hit the sweet spot of bean/rice/meat proportion. In a busy kitchen the preparation can be uneven, but on a good day their carnitas burrito ($9, below) sings. Burrito puritans might raise their eyebrows at the lettuce, or the pickled jalapeños, but the sum effect is hefty and delicious. Please note that Juquilita does not have a salsa bar, and your green and red sauce will set you back an extra 50 cents a cup.

Beyond the burritos, Juquilita's menu is ever-expanding with hand-written addendums. A torta Hawaiana ($9, not shown) is sloppy in the best way, ham and melted Oaxacan quesillo anchoring a mess of chipotle, avocado, beans, and canned pineapple. If you do not like pizza with pineapple, this might still do the trick.  
Tacos Aztecas ($10 for three) combine bistec with quesillo and grilled nopal. Other recent menu additions include a selection of Pueblan tacos placeros, and a few nods to the increasing number of non-Mexican customers from the neighborhood. A bacon egg and quesillo sandwich ($3.75, below) is served with avocado, grilled jalapenos, and a dash of mayonnaise. Another variant substitutes chorizo for the bacon. It’s great to see the Mexican ingredients dressing up a classic New York sandwich.
A New York City-Oaxaca mashup.
If you’re in a hurry there are often ready-made guisados simmering in pots back in the kitchen. A recent Saturday lunch yielded an exemplary red pipian with rice and beans ($7.50, below). Pipian in New York is often mild and liquid-y, but Juquilita’s iteration is thick with ground pumpkin seeds and very rich. Well worth a second order the next time it is available.

Besides laundry and tacos, Juquilita offers a full meat counter, fresh produce, and a remarkable selection of Mexican groceries jammed into a multi-pupose space. This could be the start of an epic North Shore Mexican food crawl: starting at Juquilita for pipian and a burrito, walking up Castleton to the excellent Oaxaca Pizzeria Deli & Taqueria for tacos de alambre and nachos con pico de gallo, and then staggering on to Port Richmond Avenue, the heart of Staten Island’s thriving Mexican community.

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