Food & Drink

Everywhere in NYC to celebrate not-Mexican independence

Published On 04/28/2013 Published On 04/28/2013
Interior at Antojeria La Popular

Cinco de Mayo is Sunday, meaning it probably would be good enough to post up at just about any bar and drink margs 'til you think sombreros are cool. But instead, we've collected eight actually great places to hit, each with a very specific and different reason to visit

Best Margarita The Wayland 700 E 9th St; Alphabet City; 212.777.7022 No, it's not a Mexican place... that's the Wayland-o, in Murray Hill. But the bar team here has worked up a marg of pure originality -- which is only partially because it turns kale into something you actually want to put in your mouth. Adding to the fun: their new tequila oyster shooters. Eat your veggies! Or drink them, right here.
Craziest Taco Filling Antojeria La Popular 50 Spring Street; Nolita; 646.476.3567 Because they want to freak the hell out of your date, the owners at Nolita's Antojeria La Popular make trips to Mexico to figure out how to bring more bugs into the US, then use them (crickets, specifically) in their blue corn tostadas topped with avocado and cream, and in their quesadillas with Oaxacan cheese and freshly cooked masa tortillas. Click here to get your cricket on
Hottest Hot Sauce Dos Toros 137 4th Ave; Union Square; 212.677.7300 Not only do they have bomb SF-style burritos, the mini-empire builders and hilarious video makers over at Dos Toros also have a seriously sweat-inducing habanero hot sauce that requires some 20lbs of the pepper for the in-house creation process. Burritos, burritos, burritos, right this way
Best Guacamole Hecho En Dumbo 354 Bowery; NoHo; 212.937.4245 No gimmicks or nonsense here -- just great ingredients, the right amount of spice, the perfect ratio of classic- to New-World-style, and a smattering of housemade chips. Guac it up here
Best Outdoor Space La Gringa 800 Grand St; Williamsburg; 718.388.0055 La Gringa, deep in Williamsburg, has got you covered -- sometimes literally. Whether it's winter or summer, you can either score beers and tacos while watching The Basketball Diaries in their heated movie tent, or take down quesadillas while checking out their open-air market during the summer. Head on over for dinner and a movie, and get all the details here
Best Nachos El Parador 325 East 34th Street; Murray Hill; 212.679.6812 The under-the-radar Murray Hill staple eschews the big-ol'-mess approach to the nacho plate and, instead, takes time to carefully compose each one for your snacking pleasure. Not too filling, not too messy, these tasty triangles pack a punch in each and every bite, and won't ever sog under the weight of too much sour cream. Click here for more Murray Hill Mexicana
Hottest Waitresses La Esquina 106 Kenmare Street; SoHo; 646.613.1333 Aspiring models and fashion types literally litter SoHo (with cigarette butts mostly), so it's no wonder the staff at the original taco speakeasy are so consistently smoking. SoHo sexiness is right this way
Best Tequila Selection Mayahuel 304 E 6th St; East Village; 212.253.5888 Leave the slamming shots and Tequila Sunrises to the amateurs, and head to the Death & Co guys' tequila temple for a seriously eye-opening (and then probably closing) experience with their next-level selection of not only 'quila, but also mezcal and sotol. Find out more here

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1. La Gringa 800 Grand St, New York, NY 11211

Located deep in hipster-central Williamsburg, La Gringa has you covered no matter what you need, whether it's a bunch of burrito options (steak, fish, chicken, pork, etc.), Mexican soda, cheap booze ($2 beer cans), or the opportunity to use their backyard space to host your own movie-watching party/event. Although it can be hard to leave home to go out, this place will be even harder to leave.

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2. The Wayland 700 E 9th St, New York, NY 10009 (Alphabet City)

From a duo that spent many years bartending, cooking, and consulting in the restaurant business, The Wayland is a live-music cocktail bar in the heart of Alphabet City that aces the neighborhood watering hole game. Connected to the bar is a kitchen that specializes in small plates like raw (or fried) oysters, pork belly BLTs, and fried mashed potatoes. The cocktails reflect a DIY approach, with hours of prep work just to produce house-made radish, spiced apple, and key lime-flavored bitters.

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3. Antojeria La Popular 50 Spring St, New York, NY 10012 (Nolita)

Tasty bites from all across Mexico, most meant to be eaten street-food-style (or, with your fingers as messily as possible): chilaquiles, tostadas, and ceviches. For dessert, there are refreshing La Newyorkina paletas, made in Brooklyn.

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4. Dos Toros 137 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003 (Union Square)

Dos Toros is the project of two brothers from California who were sorely disappointed by the lack of true West Coast burritos in NYC. Rather than fly all the way home and give up on their NY life, the pair decided to address the problem directly by opening up a number of DT shops, all serving massive, filling burritos that feature handmade tortillas, rice, beans, cheese, salsa, sour cream, and your choice of meat. In case you aren't looking to go into calorific shock, go relatively lighter with one of their tacos or quesadillas. And wash it down with a cold Corona, because no burrito joint is complete without a liquor license.

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5. Hecho En Dumbo 354 Bowery, New York, NY 10003 (Noho)

Despite the name, this place is actually located in Manhattan, or at least it has been since it relocated from DUMBO a few years back and moved into a Bowery location with exposed brick, dangling iron fixtures, and a stainless steel kitchen. The kitchen stays true to Mexico City cuisine, turning out a range of small plates that includes made-to-order guacamole, caramelized wagyu beef tongue, and berkshire pork with Yucatan spices. They've also got a killer brunch menu for the weekenders that features breakfast tortas, Mexican French toast (it's like the UN of breakfast plates), and more.

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6. El Parador Cafe 325 E 34th St, New York, NY 10016 (Murray Hill)

El Parador Cafe's an unassuming joint that's serving up authentic South-of-the-Border food. With 54 years of experience under its belt, EPC is the oldest Mexican restaurant in the city, so it must be doing something right, particularly its delicious nachos.

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7. La Esquina/Corner Deli 114 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012 (Soho)

The outstanding tacos -- served individually -- are the real deal at this perpetually popular outpost on Kenmare. Below the taqueria is a not-so-secret secret subterranean dining room, where you can snag margaritas, queso fundido, chile relleno, and carne asada with chimichurri in a decidedly sexier environment. Search for the door with the "Employees Only" sign behind the bouncer inside.

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8. Mayahuel 304 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

Mayahuel elevates tequila beyond the "sloppy taco-happy-hour margarita" status it's too often given in New York. It's not much of a surprise given that this dark and sultry lounge is from the cocktail pros behind Death & Co. Expect a range of spicy and smoky tequilas and mezcals; though cocktails are the main event here, small plates like chorizo croquetas and chihuahua cheese quesadillas balance out the experience.



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