Dining Out: A Mexican food home away from home at Casa Vieja
When you dine at Casa Vieja, you are more than just a customer—you are like a guest in Enedina and Magdaleno Peña’s home.
The Sunset Park couple opened their family-run restaurant five years ago after two decades of working in other kitchens and running a mobile food and drink cart in the Red Hook ballfields. Now, they are successfully introducing even more people to their world of homemade authentic Mexican food, made fresh to order every day.
The most popular dishes on the menu include the enchiladas, tampiqueñas and burritos, and it is easy to see why. Enchiladas De Mole Poblano ($10) delivers three soft corn tortillas stuffed with your choice of Cotija cheese, vegetables, meat or shrimp, smothered with a thick, savory-sweet, dark sauce tinged with the heat of poblano peppers and the sweetness of chocolate. On its own, each bite is a pleasant surprise for your senses; when smushed with a forkful of fresh rice, beans and avocado, though, the combination of cool and complex just goes to another level.
Casa Vieja’s burritos ($8) are a monster deal, with the giant flour tortilla packed full of your choice of meat or vegetables, with cheese, chili, beans and rice. It also packs a monster amount of flavor. Our chicken burrito had the perfect hit of spiciness without being overwhelming, but you can request the heat to be turned down, as well. Slices of avocado, pico de gallo, sour cream, red or green sauce, and a small side salad also provide a cool counterpoint.
We recommend also looking beyond these options, as the menu is full of gems like Tacos ($1.50 to $4) filled with everything from camarones/shrimp and chorizo/sausage to lengua/steamed beef tongue and barbacoa/steamed goat.
The best tamales ($1.50 each) we’ve ever had are also at Casa Vieja. Perfect for breakfast, lunch or whenever, the long, steamed corn-based masa come wrapped in corn husks and don’t fall apart or stick to the husks upon opening. Stuffed with a mixture of meat, cheese and green or red sauce for a kick, the tamales combine tradition—they can take around three hours to steam—with convenience.
Seafood lovers can also rejoice with choices large and small, such as the Cazuela de Mariscos ($13.95), a seafood stew of fat shrimp, clams, mussels, tilapia, calamari and octopus that arrive swimming in a smoked chile broth made of its own fish stock. The seafood is remarkably tender and oh so aromatic, the octopus and calamari rings in particular surprising us with their lack of chewy resistance. We highly recommend this to beat the winter chill or just to warm you up any day of the year.
No visit to Casa Vieja is complete without a glass of Enedina’s agua fresca and/or horchata ($2). Made daily with fresh ingredients like boiled hibiscus petals, lemon juice and tamarind pulp, the agua fresca is something kids and adults alike have been coming to her for since she offered refreshment during Red Hook summers. The horchata is especially refreshing, its liquefied sweet rice and cinnamon an understandable fan favorite.
Casa Vieja also offers wine, sangria and desserts such as Kahlua and rum flan ($3.50), Bananas Flambeed ($4) and Torrejas/French toast ($3.95).
Visit Casa Vieja and you’ll already be planning your next trip.
6007 5th Avenue
Open weekdays from 11 a.m. to midnight
Open weekends from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Free delivery/$10 minimum
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