This gem is already known to the students at nearby Fordham University, who flock to there. On Arthur Avenue, the famous restaurant row in Belmont (the Bronx's Little Italy), it stands out for authentic dishes, reasonable prices and student-appetite pleasing servings. The menu does list a few gringo-friendly items -- heck, it even lists chicken fingers for kids too young to be adventurous -- but it also offers real Mexican cooking, including house-made mole sauces and salsas, and (in season) delicate specials of squash blossoms (stuffed, in enchiladas, and other preparations). The restaurant is tiny -- maybe 50 seats at 8 or 9 tables -- but service is swift and business is lively. There are enough things on the menu to feed a vegetarian well (though vegans will have a slimmer selection) -- on a recent visit, one offering was pototo croquettes in a spicy red adobo sauce. Usually, when a (typically gringo-friendly) Mexican restaurant says "spicy" I know it is manageable. When Estrellita says "spicy," believe it. It was delicious, but it was authentically potent. The chicken in another dish -- an enchilada suiza -- was a little dry, but the sauce was astounding. The side rice and beans were home-cooked tasty, and on each table there is a four-part server with add-ons: a cilantro-based sauce, one that seemed to be a thinned red chili mayo, a container of sliced radishes and lime wedges, and another of pickled red onions and pepper slivers. On other visits, we tried a chicken and shrimp special, and a house-special assortments of meats and sausages; both diners were pleased. And, a lovely bonus, the minute you sit down you are offered a basket of freshly cooked chips and really good, spicy salsa. THEN they ask you what you would like to order. Warm. Welcoming, Worthwhile. Winner!
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