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Looking for Excellent Mid or Up Scale Mexican

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I'll be in town for a couple of weeks around Thanksgiving and I'm curious what NYC has in these regards. I'm quite familiar with the city, generally, but I've never been to a real Mexican, or even Southwest, restaurant there. I'd love to read thoughts.

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  1. Empellon is getting a lot of good buzz, it's Stupak from WD-50, but I have not been there yet.

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    WD-50
    50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

    1 Reply
    1. re: Spiritchaser

      Empellon is great. I go there at least once a month.

      Stupak is planning a more elaborate restaurant called Empellon Cocina in the East Village, which should be open by Thanksgiving,

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      Empellon Taqueria
      230 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

      Empellon Cocina
      105 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

    2. Toloache is very good.

      http://www.toloachenyc.com/media/tolo...

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      Toloache
      251 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019

      2 Replies
      1. re: small h

        Second Toloache. Yerba Buena Perry (same owner) is also quite good, though more Pan Latin.

        Agave in the West Village isn't bad.

        If you can score a table at La Esquina, that could be worthwhile too. Their carne asada is delcious. A bit of a scene though.

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        Toloache
        251 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019

        La Esquina
        106 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012

        Agave
        140 7th Avenue South, New York, NY 10014

        Yerba Buena Perry
        1 Perry Street, New York, NY 10014

        1. re: small h

          I love Toloache too.

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          Toloache
          251 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019

        2. I've also really enjoyed a meal at Pampano.

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          Pampano
          209 E 49th St, New York, NY 10017

          1. We like El Parador on E 34 St. Best mole I've had outside of Mexico.

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            El Parador
            325 East 34th Street, New York, NY 10016

            1. I like Empellon, but in truth, the food at Pampano is better right now. I have been to Empellon about once a month since it opened and have noticed some slippage in the quality of the food in the past two months, especially relating to egregious oversalting. Tongue tacos used to be the best in NYC, but now they're a little dry, the recipe seems to be different from the initial formulation and I don't think they are nearly as good a they were, before.

              For high end Mexican, especially if you like seafood, I'd go to Pampano.

              Another option that isn't often mentioned on this board is Hell's Kitchen restaurant in midtown west. I haven't been recently, but as of a year ago, it was still very good.

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              Hell's Kitchen
              679 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036

              Pampano
              209 E 49th St, New York, NY 10017

              Empellon Taqueria
              230 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

              1 Reply
              1. re: michelleats

                I second your rec for Hell's Kitchen. You're right, it doesn't seem to get a lot of mention on this board. Very good food, attentive service. I've been there many times- ate there last only a few weeks ago and always leave very happy.

              2. Thanks for the replies. The menu at Empellon looks excellent and versatile. Both Hell's Kitchen and Toloache are easy walking distance from my hotel (51st at 7th), so this is very helpful. Thank you.

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                Toloache
                251 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019

                Empellon Taqueria
                230 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

                1. Where do you come from? Why Mexican in NYC?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: RCC

                    san francisco\bay area

                    1. re: AubWah

                      Yep. San Francisco. Why Mexican? Long stay, I know the city pretty well but never been to a nice Mexican restaurant there so I decided I might check one out. No reason beyond that.

                      1. re: whiner

                        We do a lot of other cusines here at world class level, and this is just a suggestion that you temper down your expectation on NYC Mexican, especially as, I assume, you've had your fair share of Mexican in the Bay Area.

                        But would still look forward to your post-trip thoughts.

                  2. Centrico in Tribeca is our go to fancy Mexican spot. Good food and service along with plenty of room at your table.

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                    Centrico
                    211 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                    1. I like Maya for upscale Mexican, though I'd happily go to any of the others. These are fine suggestions, but a look at my Zagat Guide indicates that there are many others just as good, so you might want to look at a copy.. Brooklyn, too, has excellent Mexican food.

                      For Southwestern cuisine, you might consider Mesa Grill.

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                      Mesa Grill
                      102 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                      Maya
                      1191 1st Ave, New York, NY 10021

                      1. In addition to concurring with others who mentioned Empellon and Pampano, I'd also suggest you consider Suenos and Crema. I'm a bit surprised no one has mentioned those yet. On slightly more mid-scale level, Mercadito Grove and Hecho En Dumbo can be quite good. I don't like Toloache as much as some. Never bad, but I don't think the flavors are as sophisticated, memorable and well balanced as those at Suenos, Crema or Pampano.

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                        Toloache
                        251 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019

                        Mercadito Grove
                        100 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014

                        Crema
                        111 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

                        Suenos
                        311 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

                        Pampano
                        209 E 49th St, New York, NY 10017

                        Empellon Taqueria
                        230 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

                        Mercadito
                        179 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: lpshanet

                          I'll second the rec for Suenos in Chelsea, and also add that they make good margaritas, which can be hard to find in NY. I lived in Austin, TX, for over a decade, and Suenos does a great job with homey, clean, yet somewhat sophisticated Mexican food. There are deals to be had: Tuesdays and Sundays are taco nights, when $35 gets you three tacos with ample accompaniments plus a dessert sampler. There's also a prix fixe menu of three courses for $30 from 5 to 7, with happy hour running the same time period with 2 for 1 drinks. The bar menu is slightly different now than the times that I went--order the excellent chilequiles if they have them, and the guacamole is delicious. The corn tortillas are homemade as they should be, tender, and delicious.

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                          Suenos
                          311 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

                        2. Maya or Pompano, we think, are the best all around upscale options. Pompano is fish focused, Maya has a broader menu. Good luck.

                          1. Toloache. Hands down. Delicious, inventive, and (unlike most places) the quality of the Margaritas is NOT inversely proportional to the quality of the food. Both are excellent! Try the ceviches, short ribs. Yum. Avoid pre-theater if you can, it's too noisy and hectic.
                            Mole is good too, more down home, and no reservations.
                            Rosa Mexicano, but can be noisy (at least at Lincoln Center location).

                            -----
                            Mole
                            205 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

                            Toloache
                            251 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019

                            Rosa Mexicano
                            61 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10023

                            Mole
                            57 Jane St, New York, NY 10014

                            1. It's really not that easy to find good Mexican food in NYC. That said, I think Hecho en Dumbo is pretty wonderful.

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                              Hecho en Dumbo
                              354 Bowery, New York, NY 10012