When you think of NYC, the first types of food you think of are probably the best pizza, hotdogs and various other street foods, and maybe even the best Chinese from Chinatown. People don’t normally associate NYC with the best Mexican, but that’s because they just don’t know. NYC has some of the best Mexican restaurants around to satisfy all that you might be craving from Tex-Mex to true South of the Border flavors to original NYC cheap eats. We’ve made a list of five among the best Mexican restaurants that NYC has to offer, so you can put down your pizza slice for a change.
You can have Mexican food like you’ve never had it before at Enrique Olvera’s elegant establishment. You never think of small plates when you think of Mexican; but this is exactly what you’ll get at Cosme, and you’ll appreciate it nonetheless. Who’s to tell say that you can’t order more than two or three plates at a time anyway? Imagine having blue corn tortillas with pumpkin seed butter and bone marrow salsa on some crispy tostadas. It all sounds fancy, but it works. And like we said before, it’s Mexican food like you’ve never had it—only available at NYC. It’s exactly the elevated Mexican dining experience that we’ve all been looking and craving for.
Los Tacos No.1
The name alone implies its greatness. Los Tacos No.1 is surely one of the best fares in Chelsea, giving west coasters something to enjoy on Taco Tuesdays and all other days of the week. Let’s start with the tortillas made from scratch (because tacos made otherwise don’t really count). They puff up on the grill almost taunting you, teasing you in a way. But all grilled tortillas submit upon the addition of the adobada pork on top of it—juicy, sweet, and oh so tasty. The pineapple and the lime completes the taste, and it’s really difficult to eat just one or two. But you should only eat one or two because there are other great tacos to try from this establishment.
This restaurant may be just a sibling of Alex Stupak’s few restaurant children, but it’s quickly turning out to be the best child. The uptown move is an unusual change but is notable for its direction. The scale that Stupak is trying to deliver needed a more elegant stage, and the menu is reflective of that. Empellón is hardly the taquería you might recognize at the local taco stand, but it has all the workings of Stupak’s vision for fancier Mexican food. We certainly appreciate the efforts and the taste because the duck carnitas alone are worth the trip from downtown. There’s a trendy vibe here that’s a nice change if you want to dress up a little bit to have some tacos.
You don’t have to learn to pronounce its name to know that they serve some of the best Mexican food around. This Mexican bodega-style establishment is exactly what you might be thinking when you’re craving Mexican. It’s cheap. It’s good. And it comes in plenty. There’s nothing like sitting at the table to have some pretty original flavors and leave having only spent around $10. It’s a testament to the idea that you don’t need to spend much to get great, well thought out food. The lengua taco is one of their most popular dishes, so make sure to taste some tongue if ever you’re there.
The Black Ant
If you’re looking for a truly unique Mexican experience, head over to the East Village towards The Black Ant. Here you’ll find some of the Mexican unusual fares such as grasshoppers and worms. Of course, you can’t leave without tasting the namesake dish either. The best part about this restaurant is the fact that they source their ingredients from their origin states. Creators Jorge Guzman and Mario Hernandez hail from the Dominican Republic and Cuernavaca, Mexico respectively, and these are where exactly they get some of their crawly ingredients as well as their décor. It’s as authentic as you’d like your Mexican to be, but don’t worry, they have beef and chicken tacos as well.