Casa Enrique, NYC’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant, served me lately. Great appetizer, dinner, and dessert. I’m gone. I’ll save it for special occasions like impressing family. NYC’s cheapest Michelin-starred Mexican restaurant is Queens’ Casa Enrique.
Chef Cosme Aguilar founded Casa Enrique in 2012 after growing up in Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state.
The Long Island City restaurant is more cottage than renowned. Since 2015, the Michelin guide has named Casa Enrique one of NYC’s top restaurants.
Searches show Casa Enrique is the city’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant. Only Casa Enrique, one of 55 Michelin-starred restaurants, is “$$,” making it ideal for a budget-conscious correspondent.
I visited Queens for the excitement.
Not a culinary critic. I eat a Taco Bell meal and a quesadilla at home after drinking (or three).
I wanted to experience Casa Enrique’s food because I’m a foodie who’s never gone to Queens or a Michelin-starred restaurant.
The “moderate cost” restaurant may provide a $50 dinner. My appetizer, lunch, and dessert were $7 over budget before tax and tip. Not bad compared to $335 triple-starred eateries.
Arriving, the restaurant was dull.
Casa Enrique only had a Tuesday 9:30 p.m. reservation. Despite nightfall, I reserved the last table.
The dining room was crowded when I arrived at 8:45 p.m.
Despite the noise, I was seated early. Sitting down, the basic surroundings underwhelmed me. White walls and tables were bare. A character-filled tavern stood behind me.
As Michelin stars are for food, I checked the menu.
I was served chicharrones de harina and three salsas after being seated.
Simple me likes free pre-dinner sweets. Michelin-starred Casa Enrique’s freebies startled me.
After being seated, a waiter served me chicharrones de harina, a traditional Mexican wheat flour puff. The mild, medium, and hot sauces wet my fingers as I took crispy bites.
Chicharrones tasted like packing peanuts, so I was glad they were free. These sauce-dipped were wonderful.
My appetizer was beet-jicama salad. Whoa. I’m serious—I want to be buried in this salad.
I’ve never liked jicama or beets, but I trusted the Michelin gods this night. The first mouthful was one of the freshest and tastiest salads I’ve experienced.
Long, thin jicama and beet slices gave this salad a punch. The mint-lemon vinaigrette sweetened the crisp and juicy jicama and beets.
I’ve been thinking about the salad’s queso fresco and candied pumpkin seeds.
Casa Enrique’s rajas con crema improved and astonished by each taste.
I loved Casa Enrique’s rajas con crema. Tomatillo sauce, crème fresca, queso fresco, and avocado coated roasted poblanos in corn tortillas.
I had never had anything like it, and I was astonished by how many flavors were packed into the meal. It was spicy enough to make me grab my water, but not hot enough to scare me away. I was astonished by the tortillas’ sweetness.
Tortillas and sauce stole the show. The onion and avocado-topped rajas with crema took me back to Casa Enrique.
Pastel tres leches.
Dessert came after.
I love sweets, and my server informed me Casa Enrique’s pastel tres leches is his favorite dessert. Didn’t.
Rich, spongey tres leches arrived after ordering. Three kinds of milk and goat milk caramel made the dish moist without being mushy. I liked Casa Enrique’s spongy tres leches.
Sometimes fancy restaurants serve a dessert that’s more pretty than sweet. I had to box half of Casa Enrique’s tres leches to consume later.
I liked Casa Enrique, but the price keeps me away.
My neighborhood Thai restaurant is terrific for Sunday night comfort food, and Taco Bell is great for late-night nibbles (sorry, Michelin judges!). Casa Enrique is fantastic for special occasions but too expensive for everyday dining.
I can’t wait to return to impress my parents or first-date suitors.
Casa Enrique’s Michelin-starred food was great, but the atmosphere was missing. Casa Enrique supplied that.