47-55 47th Street (47th Avenue)
A cemita has the familiar look of a Big Mac — until you bite into it. To absorb the layers of spicy meat, soft avocado, fluffy bread and the thick flesh of whole chili peppers is to leave the fast-food nation forever. “Poblano food is famous in all of Mexico,” said Raúl Hernández, a restaurant worker who was polishing off a cemita at Los Girasoles in Woodside, Queens, last week.
Pining for regional Mexican food used to be sad sport for food lovers in New York, until the city got lucky in the late 1990s with an influx of immigrants from the state of Puebla. (Many of the kitchen workers in the city’s best restaurants are Poblano.)
Papalo, a fresh herb with the bite of watercress and the breath of cilantro, gives lightness to a sandwich that can weigh a couple of pounds at the outset. “Without papalo it is not a cemita,” said Tony Quintero, an owner of Kiosko, in Port Chester, N.Y., a once-neglected Westchester County town now revived as a destination for excellent, authentic Latin-American restaurants.
NY Times April 30, 2008
I have lived in Woodside for almost a decade now and consider Los Girasoles’ Cemitas Poblanas to be among the very best food available in my neighborhood. Regarding papalo, I recently experimented at home by making a blue cheese, shallot, jalapeno and papalo stuffed quesadilla – tasted great. Next time I will try habanero instead of jalapeno…