Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Mar 24, 2014 05:17 AM

Good mexican restaurant in Manhattan?

Me and my family are going to New York this summer. And I was wondering if there is a good mexican restaurant there.

My mom had one bad experience with place using storebought tortillas and salsas etc. Thats not what Im asking for.

I´d like to visit a place that makes good quality mexican quisine. With big portions (like usual in NYC), homemade tortillas, and an exciting menu where you get to try different things. I have never tasted carnitas, and would love to try that, as well as mole.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Where are you traveling from? Curious because you state NYC has big portions, I've not always found that the case here.

    What's your budget, per person, before tax, tip, alcohol?

    2 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      I´ve been there twice and never been able to eat a whole portion ever :P

      But I love that, its the way it should be. I´m from Norway, and we´re not interested in traveling outside of Manhattan, sorry. We are used to walking alot, but it would be good if its within walking distance from Times Square.

      Like, between say, 10th and 60th street? That possible?

      1. re: Ramius

        Since you are a tourist, I assume that some point you will be walking the High Line Park. If so, duck down to Chelsea Market, near the south end of the High Line and check out Los Tacos No. 1.

    2. If you want the real deal I'd travel to an outer borough

      1 Reply
      1. re: AubWah

        Homemade corn tortillas, carnitas, homemade tamales and crazy cheap prices here:
        Even with cab fare there and back its less than some of the not nearly as good mexican in manhattan....

      2. I too am a walker. NYC isn't noted for its Mexican cuisine. However, I if you're not looking for perfection, I suspect that you'd be very pleased with Toaloche on w 50th. Pampano gets good ratings in Zagat. I also like El Paso in East Harlem.

        25 Replies
        1. re: GaryUES

          Interesting. Which ones do you like best?
          Perfection is not a requirement. But as long as the food is noticably good and you get enough, thats perfect for me.

          I just want to avoid the obviously bad choices where people just put together half fabricate.

          1. re: GaryUES

            I eat a LOT of "authentic" Mexican food and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and refinement of Toloache. I imagine they make nearly everything in-house.

            (Sorry, I meant to reply to Ramius.)

            1. re: foodiemom10583

              Good. And its not so fancy that you get small portions right? I wanna get full!

              1. re: Ramius

                Well, the portions aren't huge, but you're going to be ordering one or more of their special guacamoles, some of their ceviches, some tacos to share, and then an entree (plus multiple margaritas), so I think you'll be fine. This place also serves Oaxacan-style dried grasshoppers, if you're feeling adventurous.


                1. re: foodiemom10583

                  For reference, notice the OP lists "Dallas BBQ" as one of his top 5 favorite restaurants.

                  1. re: thegforceny

                    Actually, I didn't see that. I zoomed in on the thread title.

                    1. re: thegforceny

                      He's from Norway so I'm guessing isn't experienced with BBQ. Give him a break.

                      To the original poster, if you want to head uptown to east Harlem there are some good places up there.

                      1. re: thegforceny

                        Is there something wrong with Dallas BBQ?
                        I go there everytime I visit, and love it.

                        1. re: Ramius

                          "The barbecue at Dallas BBQ is not even smoked (it's steamed or baked and then finished on the grill), so it shouldn't really be called barbecue."

                          1. re: Ramius

                            There's a lot wrong with it: a chain no better than an Applebee's or TGIFriday's that is sort of a punchline to "real' barbecue. Lots of low quality ingredients, caters to the masses. Disgustingly sweet, oversized drinks with high fructose corn syrup, oils, fats, gelatinous sauces.

                            It's about quantity vs quality.

                            1. re: thegforceny

                              Mmmm! Quantity!

                              But I love those drinks. How do you know theres high fructose corn syrup in them?

                              1. re: Ramius

                                My bad - I am sure they are freshly squeezed juices, from fruits picked at the height of their in-season ripeness. You can just TASTE the goodness :p

                                1. re: thegforceny

                                  I asked them on Facebook how they make them. They said it was secret, but that they used fresh fruits.

                                  I love their margaritas. After discovering how they make them, frozen margarita became my favourite drink. And I´m experimenting at home on how to make it in different ways now. Because of them.

                                  1. re: Ramius

                                    There is no fruit in nature that grows in neon blue, electric orange or whore's lipstick red! Perhaps there was a fresh fruit involved at some point of the production process, but not before combining it with corn syrup, cellulose gum, and polysorbate 60 to produce the margarita mix Dallas BBQ is peddling. There is a very distinct chemical aftertaste and oil-slick feeling from the emulsifiers they use.

                                    It was fine when I was a student and I could get an extra test tube of tequila chemical for just a dollar. And I had nothing to compare it to so as far as I knew it was great! Once I started branching out post-university, though, I discovered there are better drinks everywhere else in the city.

                                    1. re: JungMann

                                      The gum, which is most likely xanthan gum, is need to keep the frozen drink from separating. The only way I´ve managed to attain similiar results without gum, is with using fresh fruits. Where the pulp helps keep the consistency together. Theres no fun in drinking a margarita where the liquid is draining through the ice, leaving it tasteless.

                                      But Im open to suggestions where they give you better margaritas. I understand they make them at the mexican restaurants too, so I look forward to trying that.

                                      I just dont think Dallas BBQ drinks was that bad. But I never ordered their blue ones. I bought mango and strawberry I think.

                            2. re: Ramius

                              There are plenty of Dallas BBQ fans out there. You are not alone. But on your next visit for true BBQ try Mighty Quinn's in the East Village, especially for the Beef rib (Kodak moment) and pulled pork. But if you must stay in midtown, try Daisy Mays pork ribs. And as is the case with everything in life, Dry Rub over Wet

                              1. re: Ziggy41

                                No love for MQ's (really excellent) brisket?

                                1. re: tex.s.toast

                                  Oh, plenty of love. In fact I got a note today from a visitor thanking me after she had that brisket. But, side by side I found myself reaching more for the pork, perhaps the best I've had. Briskettowns Brisket is quite mighty as well, but that's another thread.

                                2. re: Ziggy41

                                  Thanks alot for reccomending this too. We ate here yesterday and was blown away. Best bbq experience I´ve ever had.

                                3. re: Ramius

                                  In addition to what others have posted, they use liquid smoke. I haven't been there in ages, and the last x-number of times I went there (probably over 20 years ago), my stomach felt like I had eaten kerosene and lit a match. :-)

                            3. re: Ramius

                              ive only been once, but being raised on cheap californian-mexican, i would never send someone who was worried about filling up and price/portion size ratios to toloache.

                          2. re: GaryUES

                            But NYC is el Distrito Federal compared to Norway

                            1. re: GaryUES

                              Given the OP's parameters, these are good suggestions. They are not the type of places to leave one "stuffed" after 3 courses, but supplementing the meal with some guacamoles, tacos and quesadillas to share should be more than enough.

                              I have not been in years, but I recall I was also a fan of Tulcingo del Valle on 10th Avenue for good, honest Mexican food near Times Square. Perhaps someone else can speak to their quality nowadays; I haven't visited since I moved into the delivery zone for Cafe Ollin and El Aguila Taqueria.

                              1. re: GaryUES

                                +1 for the El Paso Taqueria on Lexington and 104th Street...great food (including the carnitas), huge portions, nice service and ambiance. And I love their margaritias!

                              2. Try the happy hr at Sembrado (5pm to 7pm)...delicious Mexico City style happy hr the tacos al pastor are 2 for 1 (3 bucks for 2 tacos)'s all about the tacos (there are very few other things on the menu), but many delicious taco choices like cactus, shrimp, fish, etc...

                                sidenote: saw your profile...years ago i spent a couple months in Oslo for work...loved the city and i ate many many meals at Dinner (for others: a high end Chinese restaurant in central Oslo)...(as well as a lot of smoked salmon and reindeer steak w/ berries at TheatreCafeen)...

                                1. Manhattan is a Mexican food desert.

                                  That said, Tehuitzingo will scratch my taco itch when I'm in town and another meal form the Halal Cart just doesn't seem that appetizing.


                                  15 Replies
                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Your thoughts on Hecho en Dumbo, Suenos, Los Tacos No 1, the Empellons, Toloache?

                                      1. re: AubWah

                                        does norweigian count as "gringo?"

                                        1. re: AubWah

                                          Oh, c'mon, that's not fair.

                                          I've seen lots of Asians at Toloache.

                                          1. re: kathryn

                                            I don't really consider Toloache to be "Mexican" and certainly not in the same vein as the others on your list. It's fine for what it is -- a fancified Chipolte -- and I do like it (the Midtown location) for happy hour. But otherwise it's spectacularly mediocre.

                                            I've heard good things about Empellon, esp. the Taqueria, and the Sunday brunch, but have yet to make it out there. What do you recommend there?

                                            LTNo.1 was pretty good the one time I tried it while shopping at Chelsea Market, although for some reason I thought their carne asada was a bit underseasoned, but it might've been just a bad batch.

                                            Never been to Hecho en Dumbo or Suenos. They good?

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              i'd never heard of Toloache til reading this post, but perusing the online menu and seeing things like strawberries in the ceviche, and "miso-tequila glaze" on the fish left me a bit nauseous and almost certain to never go there...just my personal reaction to the menu...ymmv...

                                                1. re: Simon

                                                  Uh, yeah, I didn't get the strawberry lobster ceviche. What I did have, guacamole con frutas, carne asada, enchiladas con mole, and carnitas were surprisingly good. I've never been to Chipotle, so I can't compare it to that. I can compare to the places I go to regularly where the staff won't take your order if you only speak English and don't dumb down the heat unless they are asked.

                                                  The whole reason I tried Toloache in the first place was by checking out what you folks recommended in the area of the New World Stages. Toloache was always on the list. Why the hate now?

                                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                                  I remember them being good but it's been a while.

                                                  The menu at both Empellons changes constantly. I prefer Cocina slightly more due to room and location. The melted tetilla cheese with lobster is usually one of the few persistent menu items. Short rib pastrami seems to have stayed for a while. Chips with sikil pak. And of course: cocktails.

                                                  1. re: kathryn

                                                    Sikil pak?

                                                    Interesting, and quite intriguing. Do they have other Mayan/Yucatan specialties?

                                                    And I don't mean this in a negative way, but I trust their version tries to be authentic and not nouveau Mayan dip-ish?

                                                    Reason I ask is because a while back I tried sikil pak at Mike Isabella's restaurant in DC, and it was more like fucking pesto -- in terms of color, texture, taste and everything else -- than anything resembling pumpkin, seeds and/or puree.

                                                    It wasn't bad, per se, just wasn't sikil pak.

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      They are more modern than traditional so I'm not sure... But it's delicious.

                                                  1. re: kathryn

                                                    Los tacos is the closest in manhattan to the mexican food i grew up with in CA (divey hole in the walls where no one speaks english and the food is made by someone's abuelita)
                                                    The others are too "gourmet" (raddichio, store bought corn tortillas, weird non avocado stuff in the guacamole.....)