On a mission downtown the other day I found myself near the bottom of 1st Avenue. It was just after lunchtime and I was ravenous. There was only one thing to do: pop into La Puebla, a Mexican joint I used to patronize once a week with my co workers when I worked for years just south of it. We'd call the order in and pick it up twenty minutes later.
I always ordered the chicken and spinach burrito, with hot green sauce and sour cream. Never tried anything else. The bits of chicken were crispy at the edges, the spinach copious and still bright green, only just-cooked, the hot sauce zinging through my sinuses.
I last ate here in 2009. I saw no reason to change my order.
I was the the only person in the storefront shop, and listened while the lady cook sizzled my pieces of shredded chicken breast in the kitchen. I sat at a window counter and watched 1st Avenue and its East Village people go by.
My $8.95 burrito arrived under a pillow of sour cream, tucked up like it was ready for bed. Something got lost in translation of my hot sauce was not the green kind, but was still hot enough and good enough to satisfy the unforgiving standards of Memory.
This is not a light lunch. The chicken breast - crispy at the edges, from the pan, the spinach, the rice and beans, the cream, and the cutting sauce. It gives you the sniffles in the best way.
If you find yourself in the hood, go. I speak only for this burrito, never having tried anything else.
If you want beer, you can buy it nearby and bring it to one of the tables. But I recommend sitting at the bar counter in the window, to watch the zoo go by.