The "molcajete Azteca" at El Sueno Mexican Grill in Huntington...

The "molcajete Azteca" at El Sueno Mexican Grill in Huntington Station, a hot stone mortar filled with lamb, pork sausage, steak and chicken. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Joel Salas is on a mission to prove that Mexican food is much more than tacos and enchiladas. "Those are street foods," he said, "they don’t represent the scope of Mexican food, or the diversity from region to region." He’s been making the point at his Oakdale restaurant, Viva La Vida, since 1995. And now he has brought an even more authentic menu to Huntington Station.

El Sueno Mexican Grill serves excellent tacos (on tortillas made in house) but goes much deeper into the Mexican repertoire with "molcajetes," meaty feasts served in superhot stone mortars: "tablones," braised short ribs with onions and scallions; "pollo al chipotle," chicken in a sauce of smoked jalapeños; and roasted "chiles poblanos" stuffed with Manchego cheese.

Salas, who was born in Puebla, is bullish on what is probably the Mexican state’s most famous dish, mole poblano. It’s a complex sauce including ancho, mulato and pasilla chilies, onions, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, anise, chocolate, almonds, raisins, bread, tomatoes, tomatillos, plantains — and more. At El Sueno, it is served, traditionally, over a halved chicken.

The menu also includes a selection of tapas that range from Spanish classics (shrimp in garlic sauce) and pinchitos morunos (skewered, grilled pork) to Mexican and American favorites (guacamole prepared tableside, flautas and quesadillas, fried calamari and chicken wings).

In Spanish, El Sueno means "the dream," and this one was a long time delayed. In March of 2019, Salas opened a casual taqueria in the northern half of the property while he gutted and rebuilt the southern half, laid a parking lot and spiffed up the building’s exterior. Between permits and COVID, it wasn’t until spring of 2021 that he was able to open the whole, full-service, white-tableclothed restaurant with wine, beer and a full bar.

Salas, who lives in Huntington, deliberately chose Huntington Station for his second Long Island venture. "I wanted to invest in this neighborhood," he said.

El Sueno Mexican Grill is at 1711 New York Ave., Huntington Station; 631-923-3724, elsuenomexicangrill.com

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