Today’s featured blogger is Jessica Maung, ’18 – a Biochemistry major from Portland, OR. Learn more about Jessica here .
La Mexicana Grocery & Restaurant (1759 State St.) is, hands-down, the most authentic Mexican food in Schenectady, and possibly even in the Capital Region. Margot Paulick, associate professor in the Chemistry Department and one of my thesis advisors, introduced me to this hole-in-the-wall joint. Margot attended graduate school at UC Berkeley and became a Mexican food connoisseur with her time there, developing taste buds for sharp spices and full flavor. She swears that La Mexicana is the best Mexican food that she’s had in this area, and I believe her. I went for the first time to La Mexicana with Margot and our whole lab group for an end-of-the-year dinner in the spring term of my sophomore year, and I fell in love. We’ve since been there multiple times for other lab meetings, and we’ve even had the MacManus-Spencer lab join us for lab dinner (who happens to be my other joint thesis advisors). La Mexicana has a dimly-lit, barebones eating area, with simple arrangements and no frills. It’s all about the food, and all their patrons are more than okay with that. The other half of the restaurant has a small convenience store, stocked high with Mexican grocery products, including salty snacks, hot sauces, produce (the sweetest mangoes), and freshly baked pastries and breads.
You sit down, and servers bring you warm chips and spicy salsa to start. The menu is small but covers all the bases: tacos are $2, sopes are $2.50, burritos are $5.99, and meats include pollo, al pastor, chorizo, and lengua. I am personally a fan of the chorizo, and myself and my friends sometimes order just the chorizo in a to-go box to devour back on campus. My personal order includes 2 chorizo tacos, and sides of guacamole, rice, and beans. The rice is beautifully tender and the beans melt in your mouth: no further salsas, sauces, or salt needed on them both, though I usually end up squeezing some of their homemade hot sauces all over my plate. Everything is made from scratch using family recipes, and the love that goes into the food can be noticeably savored with each bite.
I’ve posted pictures of my food at La Mexicana on social media platforms, and have spread the word to the rest of campus. More individuals are learning about this hidden gem, and I am beyond happy about the support that this little family business is receiving. I still go to La Mexicana at least once a week, sometimes up to three times. When I graduate in the spring, I know I will leave the fond Schenectady area with remorse, forever missing my favorite restaurant until I return again.