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Jul 17, 2014 06:36 AM

Best contemporary Mexican for Sat. night dinner for 4?

I'm visiting NYC for the first time since 2009. Looking very forward to it. We just scheduled dinner with two NJ friends who are coming in to meet us at our Midtown West hotel (the W on Lexington). Where would you recommend we go for contemporary (or even sit-down traditional) Mexican food? I used to live in Los Angeles and Phoenix, and the great Mexican food in those cities spoiled me. I live in Kentucky now, and there is absolutely no decent Mexican food. Where would you guys suggest, where we could still get reservations or at least have either a fun wait, with margaritas, or a minimal wait, for a non-reserved table for this Saturday night? We want to dine around 7:30. Thanks!

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  1. If you're interested in contemporary creative / unusual Mexican with great mezcal-based and tequila-based craft cocktails, one of the two Empellons might be a good choice.

    Both Empellon Cocina & Empellon Taqueria have 7pm for 4 on Saturday night available on OpenTable.

    1. We really like ABC Cocina, a lot of their dishes are Mexican "influenced", they don't have a 7:00 res but they have 5:30 but they are usually very good with walk ins. kathryn's suggestion will probably work better for you but I wanted to throw this out there also because we like it so much.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Spiritchaser

        Spiritchaser, we went recently for lunch. Didn't have a reservation but were seated right away. The restaurant is enormous. Service was excellent. The shift change was handled professionally and gracefully.

        I had the tuna burger with grilled jalapeno, arugula on a sesame bun. Nice and rare. Hot like I like it and as anticipated when I read "jalapeno." Delicious. My friend had the grilled fish tacos.

        We also had dessert and espresso. I had the tres leches cake with cherries and my friend had the rice pudding with ? I tasted it, very good.

        1. re: financialdistrictresident

          I liked them from the first time we went but I actually think they've stepped up their game a little. Glad you enjoy it as much as us.

      2. Thanks! I'll check out Empellon. I would love to try ABC Cocina, have heard great things, but the risk of a long wait makes me wary.

        What about El Toro Blanco or Toloache Midtown? Or Hecho en Dumbo? They have times between 7 and 8 p.m. available.

        2 Replies
        1. re: taz99

          Toloache is somewhat traditional but not old-fashioned. The food quality is high and I love the cucumber margarita.

          1. re: taz99

            Toloache>hecho, never been to (or heard of) el toro blanco. But also toloache feels very "fancy" for mexican compared to anywhere in CA...
            Empellon(s) are great too.

          2. Close to your hotel would be Toloache. I like them, they're pretty straightforward, not the -most- adventurous but I've never had a bad meal there.

            The two Empellons are fun - Cocina has the more interesting menu of the two, IMHO.

            I was not a fan of Hecho en Dumbo personally, the couple times I've been, but many 'Hounders do like it, so maybe I'm just missing something.

            I actually like two of the Rosa Mexicano locations - the original one on First Ave and the one near Union Square. The cocktails are a little sweet (they add agave syrup to everything, which is never necessary) but otherwise, a decent midrange un-fussy traditional place. I know they're a chain now, and 'Hounders should be anti-chain - but hey, they started here, so I think of them more as "local kids done good" than a chain.

            The other option is to go out to Sunset Park for a taco crawl... but maybe that would be -too- adventurous, geographically...

            1 Reply
            1. re: sgordon

              I recognize this inquiry is a couple of weeks old, but I've been to Hecho en Dumbo once. Reserved the chef's tasting table and LOVED it.

            2. For high-energy contemporary Mexican, I like Rocking Horse Cafe - just a solid, reasonably-priced stalwart of Chelsea.

              How is Hell's Kitchen these days? I used to love it but haven't been in years.

              (FWIW, Preferred Empellon Taqueria over Cocina; love ABC Cocina).