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Mar 3, 2007 02:40 PM


So I'm from LA (where all the good mexican food comes from) and have been living in New York for the past 6 months, and have finally decided to make the leap and try mexican in the city. Does anybody have any good recommendations. I'm not looking for anything too expensive (but if that's the only good mexican i guess it will just have to do)..

Thanks in Advance.

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  1. Pampano, on 49th St., b/t 2nd & 3rd Avs., serves excellent modern Mexican cuisine with an emphasis on fish and seafood. Tasty mixed drinks. Good service. Attractive atmospherics and a convivial vibe. It is a bit on the upscale side but not hideously expensive. If you want to economize, they offer a 3-course lunch prix-fixe for $25.


    Note: I have not been to Pampano's sister restaurant, Maya, but Hounds who have say it's very good as well.

    5 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      I am a hound who's done maya, not pampano. i am itching to go to pampano,but can no doubt vouch for maya!

      1. re: RGR

        I didn't love Pampano the night I tried it. I thought it was overpriced for the quality.

        1. re: lconnor

          I agree. Went to Pampano in the fall and found the food good, but not outstanding, and the service was AWFUL.

          1. re: Lindy74

            Count me too in with the group that doesn't praise Pampano. I really wanted to like it but didn't. We went on a weekday night and the place was packed. We sat upstairs and the waitstaff was terrible. They ignored us and catered to the big groups of businessmen in suits at large tables. We had 3 different waiters come up to us eventually, each asking to take our order, each with a huffy attitude. The left hand didn't know what the right was doing. While I still wanted to be wow'ed by the food, I wasn't.

        2. re: RGR

          even better than Pampano is their little taco stand, Pampano Taqueria, downstairs in the Crystal Pavilion (building with bebe, eyeglass store)...3 fantastic tacos for under $10 and salsa choices. I went to regular Pampano during a restaurant week and really enjoyed it, but the taste and value of the tacos is too good to pass up.

        3. I just tried La Noche Mexicana a few nights ago on some Chowhound recommendations. It's not bad! They have pretty good street-style tacos and huaraches, and a bunch of other things I haven't tried, yet. I wasn't a fan of their tamales (oddly flavorless, though they were hot/spicy enough.. maybe they're not making it with high quality lard). Overall, I think it's worth hitting up. The taco truck at 96th between Broadway and West End has decent tacos and *great* pork tamales. Chicken tamales are okay, too. Orchata isn't very good IMO.

          If you want something slightly fancier, I've liked La Palapa Rockola in the past (the chuletas and the pollo con pipian sauce are, I think, the best two entree dishes), though my past two visits have left me with the impression that they've gone downhill a bit since I moved out of the neighborhood (chuletas overcooked and not as thick and juicy, forgot to bring out the accompanying chayote). There've been tons of threads about Mexican food in the city on this board, so it might be worth your while to search.

          1. i second noche mexicana . i'm in there at least once a week . try the steak nachos and hauraches. they are also sooooo nice.

            1. I've always liked Rosa Mexicano, although it does get knocked on this board. Also upscale, mostly traditional Mexican dishes, and I think quite well prepared. They do a great tableside guacamole, and the margaritas are very good.

              You might also try Rocking Horse Cafe in Chelsea. It's a small but lively place, mid-range in terms of price and food. I've only been for brunch and for a private party (just had cocktail-type food), but in both cases it was very good.

              You should also do searches on this board for taquerias and food carts in Spanish Harlem and the Upper West Side, as well as in Brooklyn.

              Enjoy your forays into Mexican dining in New York. It will be different from L.A. but not necessarily inauthentic - there has been a huge surge in Mexican population in the NY area. A lot of the smaller, more modest restaurants have been opened by entrepreneurs who are newly arrived from Mexico. L.A. also has restaurants owned/run by Mexicans, but many of the older, established Mexican restaurants in L.A. serve Cal-Mex food - very good, but something that has evolved over a few generations from Mexican traditions.

              1. For some seriously good Mexican food, and cheap to boot, your first stop should be Taqueria y Fonda. It's a little hole-in-the-wall, 10 table taco joint on Amsterdam between 107th & 108th. The owner is Mexican, as is all the staff and the jukebox. There's a fridge in the back where you can pick either a Hornitas soda, or a Negra Modelo/Tecate/Dos Equis to go with the fresh chips still hot from the fryer, and homemade salsa they'll bring to the table. Interestingly enough none of the salsas are tomato based, there are three kinds: 1) a bright and gently spicy tomatillo salsa, 2) an almost creamy, smoky, chile-based red salsa, and 3) and an incendiary green salsa with little chunks of avocado. If New York were warmer and there was more space, this would be a place that would spill out onto the street. I love Taqueria y Fonda with a passion, but I find that I'm disappointed when I order their more ambitious menu items like Chicken Pipian, but if you stick with the basics: tacos (take your pick from carne asada, lengua, chorizo, carnitas, al pastor, oreja, sesos, tripe, etc), tamales (I prefer the pork to the chicken), sopes, tortas or alhambres, you'll be in Mexican heaven.

                If you're looking for something really festive and fun, I'd stop in at Mama Mexico on 100th and Broadway. The food isn't stellar, but it's really not bad at all, and it's authentic, just not great. The reason you go is for the atmosphere and the great margaritas. The food I've had here is really no better or worse than Rosa Mexicano, but with a smaller price tag and more of a party, it's the kind of place with the tableside guacamole act, sizzling fajita platters and a mariachi band.

                I saw a recent thread about Mexican food in Queens recently, and I'm dying to take a field trip.