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.
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.
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.