In keeping with Taco Week on Cooking with Cara, today I’m sharing my favorite Mexican spots in New York City. If you’re looking for a delicious and festive place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this weekend, these places are sure not to disappoint!
Upscale: Empellón Taqueria
Empellón Taqueria is definitely more West Village than mom-and-pop Mexican, but the food is just as authentic and delicious. This place is hoppin’ on a Friday or Saturday night, so it’s a fun place to go with friends and get a few different dishes and tacos to share. I love the spicy Rooster’s Claw margarita with habanero & mango and the chorizo & spinach queso fundido (seen above).
If you’re looking to impress your date, take him/her to Mayahuel in the East Village. Somewhat hidden and a bit dark inside, this is a great place to hide amongst the shadows and sip on some serious cocktails. The food is also solid here, if you want to give all of that alcohol something to soak into. The palomitas – popcorn with lime, cotija cheese and ancho chili – is a light and unexpected snack for such a sexy spot.
If I’m heading to a movie in Union Square and want to grab a quick bite before, I head to Tortaria. They specialize in tortas, hence the name, but also have taquitos and sides, like guacamole. My favorite is the braised short rib torta with black beans, avocado, pickled red onion and jalapeño. Their fresh fruit margaritas are also tasty if you’ve got more time on your hands – love the spicy cucumber! (can you tell I love spicy foods yet??)
Rowdy: Diablo Royale
Full disclosure, Diablo Royale is not the place to go if you want a nice atmosphere (read: lots of drunk, fratty boys), but it is the place to go if you want to get your party on. The spicy mango margarita is one of the best spicy margs I’ve had (and I’ve tried a lot); they’re just all too easy to suck down (guess that’s why the frat boys love it there too).
Happy Hour/Rowdy II: Cowgirl
I’ve only actually eaten at Cowgirl once and I had a salad, so I don’t feel that I can really judge Cowgirl on its Mexican food; but I’ve enjoyed quite a few happy hour margs there, of which I am more than qualified to recommend. I usually prefer rocks to frozen, but their frozen margaritas are so nice and frothy (dangerously half-off 3-6pm). They also come with cute plastic horse garnishes, which are all too fun to play with after a few drinks.