Matamoros Puebla Closing

Sopes1
I moved to Williamsburg in March, 1998 and it is an understatement to say the neighborhood has changed a lot since then. One of the constants, however, over the last eight years is Matamoros Puebla Grocery on Bedford. The back of this crowded little store is a taqueria serving some of the best, authentic Mexican food in the city. Certainly the best in the WB. Matamoros changed the way I thought of Mexican food, which to that point meant hard-shell tacos, burritos, and sour cream smothered enchiladas. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Tacos1
Their tacos ($2) are just the meat of your choice, onions, cilantro and salsa on two soft corn tortillas, with lime wedges and radishes on the side. They offer about ten different kinds of taco meat, most of which are either from cows or pigs. (I am partial to carne enchilada, a spicy pork, and the bistek, which is your basic beefsteak.) Maybe even better are the sopes ($1.50, pictured above): thicker, homemade tortillas, rimmed around the edges like kiddie pool, holding meat, onion, salsa, crema and crumbly cotija cheese. The first time I had a sope, I thought it was maybe the most delicious thing I’d ever eaten.

They also have tortas (sandwiches), tostadas, tamales, quesadillas (not the flour tortilla kind you find most places), and big bowls of pasole soup. (They have since added burritos to the menu, but getting a burrito there is like going to Grand Sichuan and ordering the chow fun, or going to Sushi Yasuda and asking for a California Roll.) Matamoros kept me going through two stretches of unemployment and remains my go-to choice for quick, delicious and cheap.

But sadly, not for much longer.

Matamoros_mariachi
On my way to work last week I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw a sign in the window that read "Store for Sale." I went in and inquired and my fears were confirmed — the owners cannot afford the rent anymore and are leaving the neighborhood (maybe to open another store in Bay Ridge). I don’t know what I’m going to do without it. The thought of no sopes, no tacos de enchilada, not to mention all the dried chiles and Mexican products available… Williamsburg just won’t be the same. There is no firm closing date but it will be sooner than later. So enjoy it while you can.

Matamoros_sign_1
Matamoros Puebla Grocery

193 Bedford Avenue
between
North 6th and North 7th Streets

(718) 782-5044

10 Comments

  1. you took the pictures of the food, right? you should become a food photographer…like at Gourmet or Bon Appetit.

  2. It might be a final decision already but you could try contacting the alderman of that area. A similar thing occurred with my favorite Mexican place in Andersonville Chicago called Angels. Basically, because the area is picking up, the restaurant owners could not afford their rent and probably the only place that would be able to at that point was Chipotle. Cinchel and I wrote a letter, signed a petition, and went down to talk to the alderman. A firm case was made to the alderman that the nighborhood would not support a chain that came in the place of Angels and so the landlord decided to lower the asking price. Perhaps, the situtaion there is a bit different but I felt sad and like the situation here was helpless until I realized I was one of many who could all come together and help make a difference.

  3. Thanks for recommending that place, Bill. Unfortunately NYC is short on real, authentic Mexican food. The tacos look really tasty and really similar to the ones in a place on E. 116th St (in East Harlem) that I used to frequent a lot when I lived in that neighborhood (tip: if you want authentic and very tasty rural Mexican food, just go on that strip between 2nd and 3rd Avenues). Before that, I'd only thought of tacos are hard shells with some beef or vegetable fillings as well. And man were they tasty! I miss that place! They also look similar to tacos that I had in Santa Monica a few days ago at this upscale Mexican-style place (really like a Mexican bistro but it was good) there that was recommended on chowhound.
    Anyway I'll be in the WB in a few weeks for the Go! Team show at North Six and perhaps earlier, so I'll try to check it out (hopefully they'll still be open!).

  4. I actually saw the new store a while back when I was in Bay Ridge. From what I saw the First lady that worked at matamoros is still there and so is her sister dishing out the tacos and sopes and whatnot. i know its on 5 ave and 77 street and the R train is about a blbock away. the new business name is El Azteca Corp.

  5. As of 11/17/2007, I think this place is still open and still delicious.

  6. Aw hell!
    I concur with your assement of the fare at this haven of culinary delight.
    What a damn shame.
    Much like me, I gues, they got priced out of Billyburg. Maybe, like me, they'll move to Bushwick, at least until we priced out of there too.
    Nice blog, I'll be back.

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