It had been more than a decade since I'd eaten at Cozymels in Westbury. The cavernous and colorful Mexican restaurant, part of a small national chain, had undergone a change of ownership a few years ago, upgrading its food in the process. Here, the flour tortillas are house made, as are all the sauces, which begin with the roasting of chili peppers. Surprising, that a chain restaurant can give independently owned Mexican places a real run for the money.
A recent visit kicked off with a fruit-filled glass of sangria, accompanied by gratis nachos and a bright, fresh salsa. A cup of chicken soup ($4.50) was super savory, loaded with poultry, rice, avocado and corn.
But the meal hit a snag when the wait for the main course extended past 45 minutes. Things were beginning to look hopeless when a manager — unsummoned — showed up to apologize, promising only a few minutes more. “Dessert will be on the house,” he said.
From what I could observe, the open kitchen was understaffed that night and a large party was demanding all the attention. At any rate, the food came shortly thereafter. A trio of tacos ($13.50) turned out to be across-the-board winners: pork carnitas in a soft corn tortilla and guajillo chicken as well as shrimp tacos served on house-made flour tortillas.
The dessert — a dense and creamy orange flan ($6) — proved too good to stop eating.
With the check, the manager offered a coupon for a future visit. How true it is that even when things go awry, savvy management can make the situation work to the restaurant's advantage. We left feeling well cared for, eager to return.
Cozymels is at 1177 Corporate Dr., Westbury, 516-222-7010.
Cozymels in Westbury turns out a fine trio of tacos filled, respectively, with pork carnitas, shrimp and guajillo pepper chicken.