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100 best New York restaurants: Mexican

These kitchens, taco stands and cantinas—three of the best New York restaurants—undermine that sturdy old myth that there is no good Mexican food in NYC.

Time Out, Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Prevailing wisdom says that New York Mexican food can’t compare to the stuff they’re slinging out West. Consider this list of the best New York restaurants offering tacos, burritos, tamales, guacamole and more to be our convincing retort. We’ve braved the spiciest salsas (and plenty of trips to the outer boroughs) to compile this roundup of the best Mexican grub in New York. Did we miss your favorite Mexcian restaurant in NYC? Join the conversation in the comments.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of 100 best New York restaurants


New York is a rough town for newbies—whether it’s bright-eyed hopefuls yearning for a Swiftian utopia that doesn’t exist or an out-of-town chef who’s proven his culinary clout in the global arena, only to be chewed up and spat out by Gotham’s surly dining public. This city has devoured the best of them: Spain’s Dani García, Toronto’s Susur Lee and, most glaringly, France’s Alain Ducasse. Enter Enrique Olvera, the megawatt Mexico City talent behind Pujol, regularly ranked one of the 20 best restaurants in the world. His stateside debut Cosme, a bare-concrete Flatiron dining room, wasn’t met with the disregard that crippled his carpet-bagging comrades. Instead, the opposite: a bellow of buzz that hit before doors were even hinged, let alone opened. That’s because this is the Mexican restaurant New York has been missing.

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Empellón Cocina

Critics' pick

Wd~50's talented pastry chef, Alex Stupak, shocked the food establishment when he abandoned avant-garde desserts to open a West Village taqueria. At this follow-up East Village project, Stupak leaves behind tacos to delve further into Mexican regional cuisines. Stupak is a notorious tinkerer, and a table cluttered with his most impressionistic fare feels Mexican only in the most cosmopolitan sense. Miniature roasted carrots arrive sprouting from an earthenware bowl that’s been artfully streaked with cool yogurt and sweet-spicy mole. Another beautiful abstraction features black mole splattered like a Rorschach blot around seared calamari curls, an explosion of super-savory elements with fried potato nuggets and drips of chorizo mayo. Desserts, which are the purview of Lauren Resler (a former pastry chef at Babbo and Stupak’s wife), bring high-end polish to regional tastes. Her marquesote—a traditional jam-topped Mexican sponge cake—arrives deconstructed, the moist cubes of vanilla cake surrounded by bitter orange marmalade, crumbled brown butter streusel and café con leche ice cream.

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East Village

Taqueria Coatzingo

Fresh, meaty tacos—think al pastor, slow-roasted goat and tongue—give Coatzingo an edge over the other tempting holes-in-the-wall under the 7 train track. Though the meat varieties excel, the veg version ($2)—packed with pinto beans, rice, queso blanco and creamy guacamole—is plenty satisfying.

Hecho en Dumbo

Critics' pick

Beyond bulging burritos and fussy upmarket cantinas, New York’s Mexican options were once pretty bleak. But Hecho en Dumbo brought new life to the genre, with serious cooking and a rollicking atmosphere. Chef Danny Mena’s menu includes beautifully creamy cold hearts of palm soup and an epic spin on carnitas: gorgeously blistered Berkshire shoulder and ribs alongside confited skin and roasted belly. For dessert, try pillowy almond cake with intense spiced-chocolate ice cream—one of the most sophisticated Mexican sweets in New York.

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Paloma C
Paloma C

I can't believe Casa Enrique is not on this list! Best authentic Mexican cuisine in New York!