Sunday, November 16, 2014

Best of the New New York New Mexican Restaurants

Two, no, three? weeks ago I had the chance to eat at the two hottest new Mexican openings in the city as well as revisit last year's hot Mexican opening. This is my report.


There's this chef named Enrique Olvera who runs this place called Pujol which is regarded as the best restaurant in Mexico City and one of the best restaurants in the world. And now he has opened a restaurant in New York and the food parts of the internet where very excited about its coming to be. I happened to be on the right blog at the right time and wound up making a reservation for Cosme's first official night open. Viviana joined me for the meal. And even though the restaurant is just a baby, I found it to be full operational. The staff and service was top notch and the food, as I will try to show you, really really good and fun.

But first, it's a very good looking restaurant. Kind of looks like you're eating in a high end design bookstore or something because of these shelves they have along the wall. The room is fairly dark, but a bright light hangs above each table, so diners experience some kind of cone of silence, magician's sanctuary, island of bright deliciousness in a sea of darkness eating experience.

I should get myself one of these kinds of plants.

They started us off with with just-fried tostadas and mustard.

Our first dish was Burrata and Weeds.

Mussel Tostada with Russian Salad

And this is the Cobia al Pastor with pineapple puree/salsa/whatever over there on the side. Fancy fish hitting all the flavor notes of my favorite street food. Incredible.

Now I had read from early diners that portions at Cosme were pretty small and that was true, but we ordered this thing, the Duck Carnitas for Two. It was not small. It was definitely Duck Carnitas for Three, maybe Four. But what it was was, I don't know, half a duck? slow roasted on the inside, crispy on the outside, that you tore apart and ate with tortillas and salsa. Basically a duck Bo Ssam, to borrow from the Momofuku vernacular. It was amazing. Viviana had a reasonable portion, I remained determined to see it finished off, so I ate way way more duck than I should have. And by "way way more duck than I should have" I mean "just the right amount."

Viviana patiently waits for me to eat the whole duck because I refuse to say die.

Having heard good things, finished off the meal with their Husk Meringue with Corn Mousse. The best corn-based dessert I've ever had.

Cosme is great. Word is reservations are booked into 2015, but they have space in front for walk-ins. I encourage you to walk in.

Empellon Al Pastor —

So there's this other chef, Alex Stupak, who has been finding great success in opening fine fancy Mexican restaurants in the West and East Villages and he just opened a super-casual place specializing in my favorite taco. One late night I found myself walking by, so in we had to go.

But here's my call on the place: Basically it's a crowded metal bar for non-metal people where you can order $4 tacos over in the corner. The namesake taco? It's fine. I was hoping it would be oversized at that price. Nope. But it's fine (certainly not Don Joaquin caliber). I probably won't be back soon. But that's okay because...

Mission Cantina—

Over a year ago I first ate at Mission Cantina a couple weeks before it opened, and while it was a rollicking meal, I felt no strong compulsion to return. But the day after my meal at Cosme, while I rolled around work with the regret of eating all that duck, I got an invite to meet friends there for lunch so I met friends there for lunch and you know what? That meal smacked me in the face and left me distracted. So I went back for dinner two or three nights later when Andrew was in town. And then I went again a week or so after that. So in two weeks I've eaten at Mission Cantina three times and I'm looking for an excuse to get there again. In other words: Mission Cantina has rocketed from a place I didn't figure I'd eat at again to a place I'm treating like it were the Ssam Bar in 2008/09.

One thing to start...I really dig the logo, hoping t-shirts become available.

Thanks to the restaurants colored lighting, food pictures there don't turn out so tasty looking, but this is their Smoked Pork jowl, super delicious fatty little pieces of pork sitting in a Thai-ish sauce with fried peanuts and lime leaves along with pickled green tomatoes. This, to me, is a lick the plate clean sort of dish.

Here is the tasty Avocado Sashimi, avocado pieces sitting in spicy honey with salmon roe. I had this a second time and the dish came topped with not tortilla crisps but a giant, crackling, just fried piece of chicharron. Or something I mistook for chicharron.

Masa Fried Chicken Donburi. For me, sadly, this dish was not a hit. I think they forgot to include an ingredient, a sauce or something, because it was startingly bland. Just a warning: Pass on the Donburi. But DO NOT PASS on the Country Fried Chicken Livers in Mole (not pictured). Sensationally good. The mole was ridiculous and if you haven't eaten chicken livers, don't worry. They usually just taste like chicken meat.

And it's worth noting that they've got a really cool bathroom. 

1 comment:

karter.martin said...

What a great review on New Mexican NYC Restaurants! Well dear I am searching for best San Francisco restaurants for my dinner party. I have searched a lot but couldn’t find any good references. Can you help me?