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Jul 27, 2007 11:22 AM

Reasonable Mexican

I'm looking for a reasonable Mexican restaurant somewhere downtown (below 23rd street) to celebrate with a few girlfriends on Tuesday night. Doesn't need to be fancy at all, but some place with tasty margaritas, good food and decent service.

Any suggestions?

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  1. Barrio Chino, La Palapa, Mercadito, La Esquina, Mexicana Mama

    6 Replies
    1. re: LeahBaila

      Mexicana Mama is overpriced for what you get, imo. Also, I've had negative experiences with the service.

      1. re: LeahBaila

        LeahBaila knows what she's talking about. How do you get into La Esquina, though?

        1. re: KateC.

          La Esquina is amazing, I highly recommend it. What do you mean how do you get in?

          1. re: jdream

            They always turn me away at the door. Do you make reservations in advance? Is it no problem to get reservations?

            1. re: KateC.

              Depends if you want the downstairs which is more formal and does take reservations. The Cafe (which I prefer) which does not take reservations but you can always wait. Or you can just grab food from the counter.

        2. re: LeahBaila

          I like Barrio Chino but the margaritas can run up the bill quickly!

        3. El sombrero (the hat) is awesome. They have a great jukebox and they'll make you to-go margaritas in pepsi takeaway cups. The service can be a little slow but the cheese covering everything makes up for that.

          1. Burrito Loco has great food, ok service, chill/casual atmosphere (nice inside, not a dive or anything), great margaritas. The most fun place to get smashed and participate in theme nights is tortilla flats but its always packed so u can barely move and the food kinda sucks.

            7 Replies
            1. re: skooldya1

              El Rey Del Sol -- best margaritas and pretty decent food, not too pricey and great outdoor garden in the back

              1. re: EVHealthChick

                I went to El Rey Del Sol after reading that NYMag voted them best margaritas in the city. Apparently the only people tasting had their tastebuds numbed by a few too many because the margaritas were pretty bad: pulpy and had the cloying taste of cheap margarita mix. Plain margs were no better. Same deal when I tried SueƱos on NYMag's recommendation except at $13 each, the bad quality was simply unacceptable.

                Mercadito, however, is over all fantastic. Took my friend there for his birthday and had fantastic margaritas (albeit a bit pricey at $13 a pop). Food was equally delicious. I hear good things about Agave and always see a crowd but cannot vouch for it.

                1. re: JungMann

                  mercadito is very overpriced i think -- margaritas are good but if you are planning on having more than one than you'll def spend at least 50 a person on dinner. the food is good but also the servings aren't too large.

                  el rel del sol is certainly not the creme da la creme, but i've had a great time every time i've been there with my friends. i don't think that they tasted cheap, but maybe i got a better mix than you did. and the price wasn't too bad for a big group. i also like that you can sit outside with a big group of friends and just hang out for a while.

                  agave is really good i think -- margaritas are made with fresh fruit and also has outdoor seating.

                  1. re: EVHealthChick

                    Mercadito actually does a prix fixe for larger groups (we did it with 7 people) that is very reasonably priced. You can even choose "all you can drink margaritas" which were $20 per hour per person, if memory serves. It was a great deal and the food is good. You'll have to call to get the details.

                    1. re: mashpee

                      that's good to know -- i wasn't aware of that option.

                    2. re: EVHealthChick

                      How much do margs run at Agave, again? I agree that Mercadito is pretty pricey. I got the wind knocked out of me when I got the bill for brunch; still, they are the best I've had here.

                      El Rey del Sol could be a fun place, but I just really don't like the margaritas and cheap ones tend to give me a headache. Maybe I need to try again and give them another chance.

                    3. re: JungMann

                      I've been to both El Rey and Suenos more times than I'd like to admit to. I can guarantee neither place uses "cheap margarita mix" -- or margarita mix of any kind in their drinks. El Rey is fresh juice, tequila, and triple sec (they *may* use some sugar in their lime juice as well -- can't remember).

                      Suenos (depending on the bartender) often uses Grand Marnier in their house margs, and also lime juice sweetened with sugar, and tequila (herradura silver).

                      As for the overall level of their margaritas -- it's a personal taste thing, I suppose. I generally get good margaritas in both places, but they may not be to everyone's liking. Just wanted to clarify the insinuations of this post.

                2. El Cantinero on University place below 14th street is good mexican food. They have a second floor where you can only have drinks and their frozen margaritas are 4$ and they are strong and very good. They have a free buffet on certain days on the second floor. On the downstairs floor is the dining room and the food is really good and not too expensive. I always try to go when I am in town because you get a good meal for not too much!

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: cricri7

                    free buffet? how does that work? thanks.

                    1. re: nativeNYer

                      it is located on the second floor where you have drinks and they set up a table and put out food and you can get up and serve yourself. You' d have to call to inquire about the days where they set it up because it is not served every day, mostly on weekends.

                      1. re: cricri7

                        I work right near El Cantinero and unfortunately, I must warn the hounds that the "free buffet" evening is a NIGHTMARE. I went once and will never go back for it. It draws all the happy hour freaks crusing for drunk women (alas, they find their share) and the food is warmed over trays of ickyness. Too bad, b/c EC is decent for Mex food at lunch and (much later) dinner for the price, but don't go there on a happy hour/free buffet night or you'll regret it.

                        1. re: NinaNYC

                          Sorry for the bad recommandation, but I had never eaten their free buffet before. I always went for their frozen margaritas, which are so good for the cheap prices, or had dinner downstairs.


                          1. re: NinaNYC

                            Thanks for letting us know. I kind of suspected this.

                            1. re: nativeNYer

                              thanks everyone! We are going to Mercadito! I'll let you know how it is.

                    2. No one mentioned Vamos Tacos y Tequilas. Great tacos and margaritas on 20th and 1st.