Tortillas, chilis and a rich broth will warm the soul
By Steven Sandor | April 26, 2022
OK, I had just recovered from a cold — a real, honest-to-goodness cold, at least the COVID rapid tests were all negative. But, on a cold April afternoon, with my strength just coming back (after all, this was a “man cold,” which means that, at some point, I was sure that the cough and plugged nose meant that I was close to death’s cold door), I wanted some real comfort food.
El Mariachi has been on 124th Street for years, but the space has been newly expanded, and it features a bright new storefront with some splashes of pink. But I did not go there to write a decor piece. I was there for the Sopa Azteca.
I don’t think anyone would think of El Mariachi as a fancy spot. It’s not a place where you worry about how you’re dressed or if you’ve got the fork in the proper grip. But the soup arrives in Instagram-worthy fashion. The sour cream is swirled into the tomato-chili broth, making it look like a giant candy swirl in a bowl. The tortillas, dried chilis, cubed cheese and guacamole is served on the side. You stir them in right before you eat, because you want the tortillas to have their crunch.
The broth is rich, a great blend of tomato and pepper; the cheese will soften in the warm soup, but the cubes hold up. There’s a real tang to this, and you get a decent serving of dried chilis on the side to add heat as you wish. It would not be right to tell you that you should add them all, but, really, you should add them all. But I am not one to judge. Really.
As the cool weather hangs on well into late April, this is a warm-up that is pretty darn satisfying.