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A person holds a drink resting atop a gray counter, which also features a spread of dishes included a tostada and ceviche
Photograph: Neil Burger

A seafood-centric Mexican restaurant debuts in Fulton Market

Located inside The Emily Hotel, Fora highlights dishes inspired by the cusine of Tulum, Mexico City and Oaxaca.

Written by
Samantha Nelson

Seafood-focused Mexican restaurant Fora opened on the first floor of Fulton Market’s The Emily Hotel on August 11, but restaurant staff say they’re already planning to drastically change their menu.

“We'll double [the number of dishes] in the next two weeks,” said chef Billy Caruso, who developed the restaurant concept. “Then we'll start doing the larger tableside proteins—some veal, maybe some large fish. We’ve got a couple secrets up our sleeve. We just took some baby steps. I'm really excited about what's about to come down the pipeline.”

Served in a plant-filled dining room or at fire tables on the restaurant’s outside patio, Fora’s current small menu features dishes inspired by the fare of Tulum, Mexico City and Oaxaca including a light and spicy hamachi ceviche made with pomelo and avocado and a kanpachi aguachile with smoked beets that give the fish and earthy flavor. Another summery dish is the chayote, a Mexican plant that tastes similar to a green apple and is served in a salad with cilantro, mint and shiso. Many of the herbs used to season and garnish the dishes come from the hotel’s rooftop garden.

But the real star of Fora is masa, which is ground in house using heirloom corn from Mexico and the rooftop. Executive chef Matt Danko’s menu uses it in a super crispy tostada topped with steak tartare and in blue corn tortillas that accompany pasilla-glazed bone marrow served with lime and pickled onions. Fora is also serving tetela, a triangle-shaped Oaxacan snack reminiscent of a samosa or empanada stuffed with squash. You can try it alongside recado negro butter made with charred chilis in Fora’s answer to bread and butter service. Caruso said the restaurant plans to keep experimenting with new masa preparations.

“There's so many variations of what you can do with the masa,” he said. “We're just running the gamut of different shapes, textures, sizes and flavor profiles. We’re doing everything possible because I think that's what makes this fun. Chef [Danko] is super excited about it. The guy's like a kid in a candy store.”

Fora offers a small cocktail menu with an emphasis on Mexican spirits such as sotol and mezcal, with many of the drinks also served at The Emily Hotel’s rooftop bar, Selva. However, Caruso said he expects the beverage offerings to deviate more over time. He wants to add horchata for winter and utilize dahlia, the national flower of Mexico, which is also grown on the roof.

“We're going to do some infused syrups,” he said. “It’s got this very cool flavor profile like a honeysuckle meets orange blossom.”

Caruso said the restaurant opened with a limited menu because of staffing and supply issues that continue to plague the industry following the COVID-19 pandemic. Caruso said he’s using multiple purveyors for everything and constantly communicating with them to make sure the products he needs aren’t out-of-stock or stuck in shipping containers. 

“We'll expand as we go,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that we had a really, really good product before we put it out there.”

Take a look through some of the restaurant’s offerings below. 

A melon salad garnished with herbs and edible purple flowers
Photograph: Neil Burger
Pasilla-glazed bone marrow served with lime and pickled onions
Photograph: Neil Burger
A diner cuts into a plate of fish
Photograph: Neil Burger
A plate of multi-colored tortillas served with chili butter
Photograph: Neil Burger
A tostada topped with steak tartare and microgreens
Photograph: Neil Burger

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