I can't say that New York is a hotbed of delicious Mexican food. It wouldn't be true. I've lived here for six years or so now, and I'm just starting to find Mexican food that's dependable and delicious. And spicy. Spicy is always a nice attribute for Mexican food to have.
Still, I want to shorten your learning curve, so I've been doing some research for your benefit. Because I know you're dying to know where, for the love of god, you can find some freshly made tortilla chips and salsa. So here you go.
Admittedly, none of these photos are actually from Tortilla Flats. I haven't been there since I was in college, and I'm now realizing that that was almost three years ago. Yes, I mark my years in how long it's been since I last visited a restaurant. However, here's what I remember: it was a trek and a half to get to the west-est part of the West Village for this place, but it was worth it. It's so small and packed with kitsch that you feel as if you're inside a Winnebago. The crowd is fun and most likely started drinking before you got there. (This place is just as much of a bar as it is a restaurant.) I'd highly recommend the enchiladas. They came hot and swimming in cheese, just the way I like them. All in all, a stupendous place to meet friends after work or before a weekend night out.
Ellen took me here a few months ago when it was still bitingly cold out, and I went back less than a week later, even though it's quite a walk from the train. That's saying something. This place is tiny, too, though they have outdoor seating now that things are heating up. The guacamole comes with small, soft homemade tortillas. The black bean soup (sopa de frijoles) is extraordinary, and the quesadillas are crispy and full of complimentary flavors. The staff at Chavella's is also really nice, a quality I value highly. One time I asked to take my leftover quesadilla home, and our server accidentally trashed it. She then had a new one made for me, packaged it up and didn't charge us for it. It was one of those rare, sweet things that makes me remember that New Yorkers can be nice.
I've been here a few times because it's in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where I find myself spending lots of time, especially in the summer. It's way pricier than the other two, but it's also spicier and has more of a modern twist. Their tortilla chips are lightly salted, fresh, and come with a tomatillo salsa as well as some sort of smoky, very spicy red one. The guacamole is the best I've had and also comes with small homemade tortillas. They make a Puebla pork that comes in a chile arbol peanut mole that's even better than it sounds. It's also incredibly spicy, though, so watch out. Actually, you probably shouldn't take your most spice-sensitive friends here, as almost everything I've tried has a definite bite. When you do make it here, I recommend you try the queso fundido if you're into cheese, and the shrimp quesadilla if you like shrimp even remotely. It's by far the best quesadilla I've had this side of the Mississippi. Oh, and you might want to try the cocktails, too. They're flavorful, unique and very strong.