Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
May 5, 2009 04:22 AM

Absolute best Mex restaurant in Manhattan?

And I'm not talking about taco trucks (Super Taco, no offense) but going out with the wife and friends for a night out. Point me in the right direction.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What do you consider a "night out?"
    The absolute best Mexican restaurant (in Manhattan) is Tulcingo del Valle. I haven't found anything else in Manhattan that tastes closer to what I grew up eating. It may not be chic or swanky, but the service is great and the food is authentic.
    Are you looking for something fancier?

    3 Replies
    1. re: LeahBaila

      No, not fancy exactly but a place to sit a drink some beer and linger for more than 5 minutes. For example, I love Mexicana Mama -- but there's not much fancy about that place. Thanks for the suggestion.

      1. re: jovialfriar

        If that's the case, then I highly recommend Tulcingo del Valle.

        1. re: jovialfriar

          I love Mexicana Mama. I also had a very delicious meal at Rosa Mexicano when I visited NY a couple months ago. Amazing guacamole and Chilean Sea Bass. The bar was alive at late night hours. I was told it's the most upscale Mexican restaurant in New York.

      2. Lupe in Soho.

        I'm not going to enter it into "the best" or "most authentic" sweepstakes but I like Mexican food, and I keep track of what's out there. (I like Tulcingo del Valle and Tehuitzingo a lot, and dislike Rosa Mexicano and virtually every place along 9th Ave. Sometimes I enjoy Dos Caminos as an American restaurant.)

        Lupe East LA Kitchen (or somesuch) at the corner of Watts and 6th Ave (just below Broome, take ACE to Spring or Canal or the 123) serves up very good cali-mexican food.

        To me, California has expanded the Mexican food repetoire by introducing "fresh/healthy/vegetarian" into the marketing mix, so this place plates up food a little on the lighter side and is very vegetarian friendly, at the same time with zippy flavors. Both refried and black beans. I find all their green sauce things much tastier than their red sauces things, and I like their enchiladas better than their tacos. Great pico de gallo which more than makes up for the "eh" chips.

        Very casual, cheap, they serve beer. You'd be welcome to linger, except when they have the short lines they have at the dinner hour.

        1. You want something delicious though slightly POSH go for Pampano, midtown east. It is seriously amazing. Dos Caminos is fun and good. Mexicana Mama is also delicious. A personal fave is also San Loco, though thats more a 3 am thing.

          1. For straight out best food I'd say Tulcingo. For very good food and atmosphere - Suenos.

            8 Replies
            1. re: chow_gal

              We were in a very good Mexican restaurant-highly regarded in NYC- near the theater district recently. Got into an interesting discussion with the manager who is from Mexico City. I quietly asked him what he thought the best Mexican food in NYC was and without hesitation he told me Tulcingo. We checked it out and I agree.

                1. re: jovialfriar

                  I like Crema for happy hour. Margaritas are good and freshly made chips with guacamole are the perfect snack. Mains, however, are blasé and often bland.

                2. re: markabauman

                  We ate at Tulcingo del Valle last night and I was seriously unimpressed. Maybe it's good compared to most other Mexican restaurants in Manhattan, but that speaks more to the very low quality of Mexican restaurants in Manhattan than anything else. In absolute terms, compared to Mexican restaurants elsewhere, it was mediocre and bland. I know some Mexican places in Delaware that are much better. I'm not even talking about Phoenix or Las Vegas, just boring old Delaware. And then there are the amazing trucks on weekends at the Red Hook Ballfields in Brooklyn. That food is 10,000 times better than Tulcingo.

                  I'd rather not eat Mexican at all if this is the best that Manhattan can offer.

                  Maybe Los Dos Molinos is better. If it can approach the quality found in its original Phoenix locations then it can obliterate, incinerate, and crush all this bland tasteless stuff around here.

                  1. re: Ike

                    I'm sorry to hear that you had a bad experience at Tulcingo del Valle. I am originally from Texas and consider myself picky about Mexican food, and I like Tulcingo. I have had beef and pork tacos, tamales and hurraches there and enjoyed them all.

                    If it's helpful for context, I do not like Los Dos Molinos at all. To my tastebuds, the menu is about being "show off spicy" without substance (this is coming from a woman who keeps hot sauce in her bag at all times). It's a gimmick without soul.

                    Tulcingo is much more authentic than LDM.

                    Not sure what you ordered, but hope you'll give it another shot. For those who haven't been, I think it's worth a visit.

                    1. re: mashpee

                      Los Dos Molinos might be good (I'm not a huge fan, but that;s just me), but it is very much New Mexico-Mexican (New Mexico as in the US state) cuisine, which highlights hot peppers. with lots of spice. Like Tex-Mex, it is its own cuisine.

                      Though, there are dozens of different cuisines in Mexico, just like in Italy, China, India and even the US, so maybe I'm drawing a distinction without a difference. My only point is that a lot of what is served in the US, even in California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, is hybrid cuisine to be adored or dissed on its own. I like nachos (Tex-Mex) and general Tso's chicken (American Chinese food), but neither are "authentic" food eaten by Mexicans or Chinese.

                    2. re: Ike

                      i have to agree. i went to tulcingo and was surprised about the all the craziness. it isnt all that...period...actually its not good. just because its kitschy and has tongue people go crazy. but did buy some some cheap jamaica flowers.

                      to be honest. if i want tacos on the way home i hit the carts. if im with someone i like mole in the les. people trash it at times and complain of limp lettuce. but its fun, and fresh and the ceviche is good. this is new york city not oaxaca city.

                      my mom is mexican, still lives there, california is not any more mexico, arizona is not any more mexico either, and texas sure not mexico at all. god i already miss the tacos al pastor with the sliver on pineapple and tlacoyos heaped with nopal from the street. and omg abuelita por favor preparame por favor ese plato con pollo y huitlacoche que me encanta.

                      1. re: chadew

                        There has been a decline in the quality at Tulcingo del Valle recently and while some people might still think it's great and oh-so-authentic, my feelings have been a lot more reserved. There was a discussion on these boards on this topic just a few months back.

                        For my own part, I have been happier with the food I've gotten at Tehuitzingo or else the carts as well, though I don't think the situation in Manhattan is as dire as that. If you travel, there is still good food in Spanish Harlem, parts of the LES and even Morningside Heights.

                3. The original comment has been removed