>> Sunday, April 17, 2011

MARIANELLA'S is closed.
106-11 71st Avenue
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 263-2008

11375 gets it's third Mexican restaurant with Marianella's Taqueria. "Great", some might argue,, sarcastic tone in hand. "We're up to our ears in Italian, Japanese and Thai. Now instead of something unique, we get more of the same, only Mexican." Ah. True, but false. Sgt. Garcia's is an actual restaurant with a more mature atmosphere... relatively. Five Boros is a cantina for twenty/thirty-somethings like me to get sloshed at at 2am when everything else is closed and you still need to get your drunk on. Marianella's is basically fast food. Cheap, Mexican, and in case you missed it the first time, cheap. It's the kind of food you get from a taco truck in Corona. So naturally, Marianella's is good. At least, in my experiences so far they have been.

There isn't any table service at Marianella's. You order off the big board and find a seat wherever you want. Turnover is pretty fast. You probably aren't going to wait more than five minutes to get through the line and they make almost everything right in front of you. Should you so desire, there is a FULL bar. Of course, you shall not desire. Almost no one will and it takes up space and it looks tacky... and weird. I mean, can anyone picture a scenario in which someone says to themselves "Man, this chicken taco would go great with a Rob Roy! Barkeep! Your finest blended Scotch, please." That said, I do think a chicken taco would go great with a Tecate.

The menu here is relatively simple, but varied. Tacos, burritos, quesadillas and your choice of a "protein". Ground beef, steak, chicken, etc. No tofu though. There are no vegetarians in Mexico. Marianella's also has a small empanada list and I've tried all of them. What can I say but that I love empanadas. My recommendation: skip them and go to Mama's Empanadas just off Queens Boulevard by the Queens Center Mall (Here's my review of the Northern Boulevard one). Curry Chicken, Ground Beef & Pea, Steak, Four Cheese are the ones you can try should you ignore my wisdom. The best one was the chicken curry followed by the cheese. Both beef options were pretty flat. Plus, they all suffered from far too much dough with far too little filling.

Everything else, though, was pretty good. I've gone twice. The first time, my friend Pike ordered a Beef Quesadilla which he thought was great. I did not try it, but I trust his word on whether or not unheathy food tastes anything less than par. My choice was a Steak Burrito, and I was mightily impressed. The set up is identical to what you would find at a Chipotle, so if you like Chipotle, you're likely to enjoy yourself here. If not, you'll at least know the system. Pick a meat, pick a rice, pick a bean, pick some veggies, maybe get some sour cream. That's it. Then they wrap it up and send you on your merry way. My second time I ordered a Shredded Chicken Hard Taco and a Ground Beef Hard Taco. As is normal for all hard tacos, they tend to crumble into tortilla chips by the time you're done.

I think that the biggest competition to Marianella's will be Pahal Zan for the lunch crowd during the day and McDonald's for the late night post-clubbers with the munchies.

Pricewise, just about everything floats around $7 or $8, plus tax and a drink. Three empanadas are $5.



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