Little Mexico is the name of the Garcia family’s 9-year-old restaurant in Middle Island, and it suits the modest, unreservedly authentic spot. Now the Garcias' 2-month-old Medford satellite has the same name — even though, at about 7,400 square feet, it is probably the largest Mexican restaurant on Long Island.
The long-vacant location, in a shopping center on Horseblock Road, used to be a Chinese buffet and, Luis Garcia said, the family’s first idea was to do a Mexican buffet. But the pandemic scotched that plan during its gestation stage. Now, about half the space is curtained off to serve as an event space.
The dining room’s neon lighting and sky-illusion ceiling are holdovers from the Chinese era, but now there are colorful sombreros and serapes hung on the walls, a wagon wheel and longhorns mounted above the bar and a lounge area decorated with photographs of Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata and other Mexican revolutionary heroes.
As in Middle Island, tortillas here are all handmade (a rarity on Long Island), whether they are served alongside a bowl of rich, meaty pozole (pork-hominy stew), or have a starring role in a platter of tacos. The tacos come in traditional varieties — among them, carne asada (grilled beef), carnitas (braised pork), lengua (tongue), al pastor (grilled pork with pineapple), barbacoa (braised lamb) and birria (stewed beef) — but they are slightly gussied up with microgreens. Other elevated touches include the side of mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes that accompany the chamorros de borrego, a lamb shank smothered in dark chili sauce.
Garcia said that the kitchen is trying to stay authentic while also appealing to uninitiated diners. That means that in addition to guacamole and sopesitos (small but thick tortillas topped with beans, cheese and more), starters ($9 to $18) also include fried calamari and raw oysters. Alongside mains such as mole poblano and chiles rellenos are cowboy steaks and bone marrow. (Mains range from $17 for chicken fajitas to $55 for a 2½-pound cowboy rib-eye steak.)
There’s also a full bar with a variety of tequilas and mezcals, along with signature cocktails.
For those seeking a humbler dining experience, the original Taqueria Little Mexico (2 Middle Country Rd., Middle Island) offers straight-ahead classics ordered at the counter.
Neither of the two Suffolk County Little Mexicos is related to the one in Westbury.
Little Mexico is at 3253 Horseblock Rd., Medford; 631-730-8199, facebook.com/littlemexicorestaurantandbar