Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Aug 16, 2006 06:09 PM

Mexican in LES, East Village

Looking for some good Mexican restaurants anywhere from the 20's and 3rd ave to the LES. Thanks.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have been to most places in that area and have found none of them to be very good. La Palapa is not outstanding and expensive. Mercadito has excellent drinks and OK food at tremendously poor prices. Unless they have their prix fixe menu going, you end up losing a ton of money on very little taco. I think it's 3 microscopic tacos (about 2 bites each) for $15.

    Mexicana Mama has good drinks, bad food as well, though the WV location has its devotees. If you want more tex-mex, Mesa Grill, Bobby Flay's place, is not exactly Mexican, but the last time I was there (4 years ago) it was very good. People on this board have been more mixed on it lately.

    Supposedly the best I have heard of is this place at Houston/Ave D that apparently is a real dive but is supposed to be awesome, if you want authentic Mexican food. If you want Tex-Mex, you're probably better off with one of the chains like Rosa Mexicano, or maybe Los Dos Molinos (each of which also have a large swath of detractors, but at least those $15-20 entrees actually are entrees, and the guac is good.

    I guess this is the whole "no good Mexican in NY" conversation again, but it really is true. I tried Centrico too the other day, and it was the same story - good drinks, poor to mediocre food.

    4 Replies
    1. re: jonasblank

      "Houston/Ave D that apparently is a real dive but is supposed to be awesome" you mean El Maguey y La Tuna? I had Chuletas there and it was very good. There were only one chef (I think he owns it) and a waitress, and it took forever to get the food after ordering...old school.

      1. re: maya_s

        Yes, that would be it, thank you. How divey is it? People have wildly varying definitions of that term, I've found. Is there table service?

          1. re: jonasblank

            The waitress was very friendly and professional, I thought. I just checked out the website and the girl who served me was on the front page. I tend to like the small restaurants that the owner is around...

      2. Try Itzocan, which is on 9th between A and 1st, I think.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jpbelmondo

          I stand corrected--- Itzocan is good. Contrary to the trend of everywhere else, if I am correct, it doesn't even serve margaritas (no liquor license I'd assuem). So it would actually be "good food, good prices, no drinks."

          1. re: jpbelmondo

            Correct, and thanks to you and all others who recommended the place. I had a very good dinner there tonight with a friend. We had the corn/mushroom/huitlacoche soufflee with I think a chocolate mole sauce and a salsa verde, the salad with asparagus and some kind of cheese, the chicken tostadas, and for a main, we shared the seafood dumplings - really a kind of Mexican answer to bouillabaisse, with mussels, shrimp, salmon, and delicious flavorings. The soufflee was great, the salad was good, the tostadas were excellent, the main was wonderful comfort food. With half a pitcher of sangria which was rather sweet but hit the spot, the total was $77.20 before tip. So not exactly a cheap date with the sangria (which cost $24 - a full pitcher would have been $35), but a very nice meal. I can't believe I've lived in this neighborhood for 11 years and passed by this place countless times without going in before. I'll try El Maguey y La Tuna next.

            (If there are any errors in this post, please attribute them to a lack of notes, especially on specials not on their regular menu, tiredness, alcohol, etc.)

          2. Try Mercadito (179 Ave. B). The place is tiny, but the food is excellent.

            1 Reply
            1. re: thursdayclubjason

              Itzocan is good as is El Maguey y La Tuna. And I'm going to defend Mexicana Mama - at least the E. 12th location. I've been very happy each time I've been.

            2. Downtown Bakery, more a takeout joint but the best I've had, and I order from Tuna often.

              1. I second Itzocan. A friend just introduced me to a surprisingly good spot - The Enchilada on 12th & University (practically next door to Cinema Village). It's very casual and cheap but the flavors are great and nothing I had was greasy.