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Isabela's Mexican Cuisine

Brooklyn NY (Sunset Park)

4412 4th ave (btwn. 44th & 45th st), brooklyn NY 11220

Agua Verde

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Rating: 89
Price: $$$

Amongst people who like to complain about the poor quality of NYC Mexican food, Sunset Park is considered 'as good as it gets'. Whether that is good enough is always up for debate, but Sunset Park has just as many restaurant options per block as the heart of the Inland Empire, though prices are unfortunately still at the New York premium.

My first quest to Sunset Park consisted of two restaurants: Isabela's and Tacos Matamoros. We started at Isabela's because of lore of a great and cheap quesadilla (note: totally confirmed. perhaps the second- or third-best deal I've encountered in NY so far) and Ben and I endeavored to try some tacos. After some communication troubles during the ordering process, we sat back to wait as the jukebox occasionally erupted into very loud music before returning to silence after one song. We chose to split 3 tacos down the middle: one carne asada, one pollo, and one al pastor.

Unfortunately, as soon as the chips and salsa came out, my camera ran out of batteries, so Isabela's and Matamoros are largely non-photo-documented. This is problematic, because ('Where the Magic Happens' tm) is completely devoted to using photographs to distract from the boring and amateurish prose typed up between meals. Also unfortunately because the presentation at Isabela's was quite good! The tacos came on a plate with a sauteed cactus (really, mostly butter, and delicious) and a scallion (I think; similarly seasoned, and similarly delicious). The chips and salsa were reasonable, though unspectacular- the salsa was a mostly flavorless and medium-level spicy red salsa.

The tacos themselves were worth the trip. The carne asada was cubed and seasoned with a salty and spicy marinade. While it certainly doesn't rank among the best carne asadas I've had, it was definitely on par with Zaragosa. The pollo was also lightly spiced and chewy but not gristly. The real treat at Isabela's was the al pastor taco. Pork soaked and grilled in a spicy pineapple marinade was a delicious combo, just sweet and spicy enough for a great contrast. With a squeeze of lime, it really was a 'taste sinsation!!'.

The tacos themselves did not come with any more salsa, though the salsa that accompanied the chips worked alright with the meats. A more flavorful, tangier green salsa would have been excellent with the asada, but c'est la vie! I was also admiring both the price and deliciousness of Pete's quesadilla; on a return trip to Isabela's, I'd probably get a couple al pastor tacos and a chicken quesadilla and never leave.

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