By Carol Brock
But of course! If you had a pet iguana, 5 feet long that runs around the house like a dog, and sleeps in a cage in your bedroom, you'd name your new Mexican restaurant Iguanas, right?
Alfonso and Carlos Londono, Colombian born, turned their college bar two blocks from St. John's University into a Mexican restaurant. Alfonso was steeped in French, Italian and continental food from his family's background, (father owns a continental restaurant in Jackson Heights.)
Although Alfonso had studied food at the New York Institute of Technology, he absorbed the Mexican flavor from intensive reading, restaurant dining and TV watching. Twin brother Carlos mans the bar and introduced the passion fruit margarita (served in a glass with a green cactus stem) and fruit flavored sangria-peach, strawberry, tropical and exotic fruits to the menu.
Decorating was a family affair with colorful, bold striped serapes from Cancun with fringes touching the floor used for tablecloths. Mom gave a hand in collecting a fine group of Mexican paintings and Alfonso and Carlos added folk art masks.
Having Father in a business suit act as host, while they look to hire a hostess, adds class. Iguanas, I like the look you cooked up a lot.
I liked tremendously, too, our appetizer, Mexi-tower, a monumental trio of Iguana's favorite appetizers. It includes: quesadilla (a flour tortilla filled with cheese); flautas (hand-rolled tortillas stuffed with cheese, fried golden brown and served with cilantro sour cream and pico de gallo); and tostados (crisp, round tortillas topped with beans, ground beef, and melted cheddar cheese).
But as delicious as the Mexi-tower was, the excitement was in the presentation, a three tier stand. The Rainbow Room was justifiably proud of the little meals they served on a three-tiered cake stands in the cocktail lounge and here it is at Iguanas as a stunning first course.
My entree was a steak, filet, seasoned admirably, set in the center of the dinner plate with thin slices of potato skins encircling it. A salad of avocado wedges (which could have been riper) was served with a bleu cheese dressing on the side. My dining companion went Mexican with the chimichanga (hand rolled flour tortillas stuffed with grilled chicken, cheese and beans fried golden brown, served with pico de gallo and cilantro sour cream.)
On the fall-winter menu, vegetarians are treated to four specials. One is the plato vegetariano which includes a cheese enchilada, bean burrito and guacamole taco, served with Mexican rice and refried beans, cilantro sour cream and pico de gallo. Vegetales Mixto de Ajo with fresh garden vegetables sauteed in garlic sauce, served on a bed of Mexican rice and a side of refried beans. Burritos de Frijol y Queso with bean and cheese burritos, served with cilantro sour cream, pico de gallo and Mexican rice. Vegetarian platter number four is guacamole tacos, a soft flour tortilla s filled with fresh mashed avocado ,cheese and shredded lettuce, served with the works-rice, beans sour cream and pico de gallo.
Iguanas also features two American dishes: A 16-ounce shell steak grilled to your liking with salad and french fries or Mexican-style rice. There is also oven broiled, jumbo shrimp served with french fries or, once again, a choice of Mexican rice. Also, don't forget side dishes at Iguanas: guacamole, slice jalapenos, warm tortillas, melted nacho cheese, and platanos.
Sizzling fajitas at Iguanas are done in a South of the Border style and offer a variety of options, including: steak, chicken, vegetarian, shrimp and combo fajitas.
My dining partner and I were surprised at the extent of the dessert list at Iguanas, including a bacardi rum cake. I had a coconut custard pie and my dining partner had a fruit tart with custard topped with a wide assortment of fruit.
On Friday and Saturday nights, Iguanas also features mariachi music.
Whether you have a pet iguana like Alfonso, you'll like Iguanas.
THE BOTTOM LINE
A new Mexican restaurant with pleasant South of the Border decor. Good food and service. Mariachi music Friday and Saturday nights.
Camarones and queso poppers...$6.95
Mexi-Tower (a trio of Iguana's favorite appetizers: quesadillas, flautas, and tostadas served with cilantro sour cream)...$12.95
Sizzling fajitas... $6.96
Canalones Gratinados (Canelon stuffed with spinach, chicken, riccotta cheese in tomato sauce au' gratin) ...$14.95 to $16.95.
Combinations of flautas, tostada, enchilada, taco, burrito grande.
Bistec Iguanas (a 16-ounce, sliced sirloin steak on a bed of vegetables served on a sizzling platter) ...$16.95.
Fried ice cream. (ice cream rolled in crushed cornflakes, then fried) ...$3.50
Flan (Mexican baked custard) ... $3.
Setting: South of the Border
Service: Very good
Location: Three blocks east of Utopia Parkway.
Credit cards: All major
©1999 Community News Group
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