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Best Mexican in Manhattan

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In your expert opinions, what are the best mexican spots in nyc where the drinks and ambience are just as good? thanks!

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  1. I like Zarella ... 953 Second Ave near 50th street. Food, drink and ambiance are first rate. It can be a bit too loud at times. Try the Oaxacan lamb.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chalkman

      We tried Zarela's once a long time ago. There bar scene was more like a mob scene. Just trying to getting past it in order to get to the reservations desk was a struggle. We were given a table upstairs. The seating was so close, it would make a sardine feel squeezed, and the noise level was very high. While I thought the food was very good -- an especially delicious duck stands out in my memory -- the uncomfortable ambiance is what has kept us from going back. .

    2. That's tough...in my opinion, the Mexican food in NYC is NEVER as good as the drinks and ambience. Try Mama Mexico's uptown location for the closest thing.

      2 Replies
      1. re: LFeinberg

        Barrio Chino

        1. re: LFeinberg

          I agree on this if you're looking for a really festive dining experience. The food is only pretty good but the atmosphere and margaritas are great. As cheesey as it might be, this is the only place I know with live Mariachi.

        2. Pampano serves delicious modern Mexican cuisine with an emphasis on fish and seafood. Mixed drinks are excellent. The decor is attractive, and the vibe is upbeat. During the warm weather months, you can dine on the charming outdoor terrace.

          http://www.modernmexican.com/pampano

          1. Two places spring to mind, each different.

            Mi Cocina in the Village has great food and a warm ambience.

            On the other end of the scale, literally and metaphorically, my local Mexican, El Paso Taqueria on W97th, takes some beating. While it may not have great ambience, the food is excellent. A Mexican pal of mine of high tastes recently told me he thought it was the best Mexican restaurant in the city. But that may be because his 10yo boy loves the quesadillas there to the point of obsession.

            - Sean

            1. I went to Mexican Radio (Cleveland Place) last weekend and was surprised by how good it was and how extensive and innovative the menu was. They also have a nice selection of real margaritas (no chemical mixes).

              I had the chile rellenos special. I can't remember exactly what it was filled with, but it was an interesting mix of unexpected things including raisins. A friend had the carnitas, which was excellent and perfectly spiced.

              Beware of the different hot sauces on the table. Most BURN.

              1. Maya - one of Robert Sandoval's "Modern Mexican" restaurants - the food is fantastic. Their mole sauce is amazing, ambiance is great but it can get a bit noisy and the guacamole is fantastic.

                Rosa Mexicano's guacamole is also amazing and the Lincoln Center location in my mind, has the best ambiance.

                1. I really enjoy Rocking Horse Cafe in chelsea & it's become my favorite mexican. Haven't hit a dish I didn't love, great guac, excellent & very unique salsa, and you can't go wrong with their frozen fruit pint margaritas :)

                  Was disappointed by Rosa Mexicano last time, very underwhelmed and have definitely had better, including at Dos Caminos.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: downtownstefanie

                    I have to vote for Suenos in Chelsea. Not traditional Mexican but very much evocative of the real thing and ambiance is elegant and festive without the frozen marg bar mob that typifies a lot of Manhattan mex. Also vote for Mexicana Mama on Hudson St, although ambiance leaves a lot to be desired.