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The 100 best dishes in New York City 2014: Best Mexican

New Yorkers can satisfy cravings for zesty South of the Border fare with the best Mexican food we sampled in 2014

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
100 best dishes in New York: Rabbit enchiladas at the Black Ant
Los Angeles may think it beat New York when it comes to the best Mexican food, but this year’s crop would shut up even the staunchest Cali naysayer. For standout South of the Border fare, look no further than local joints like Empellon al Pastor in the East Village and Mission Cantina in the Lower East Side. Check out the best Mexican dishes of the year.

The Gorgon at Otto’s Tacos

How do you improve the glorious taco? You fry it, baby. For this off-the-menu, off-hours special, chef Joe LoNigro deep-fries a huge fresh-masa tortilla until it’s flaky enough to rival French viennoiserie. That crispy shell is then jam-packed with a mountain of spice-laden carne asada, red salsa, globs of guacamole and drizzles of serrano-chile crema. $8.

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East Village

Rabbit enchiladas at the Black Ant

At this bugged-out Mexican cocina from the Ofrenda crew, the highlight is, incidentally, a pest-free plate. For his hearty enchiladas de conejo, La Esquina alum Mario Hernandez blankets braised rabbit in a velvety, tomato-chile sauce before tucking it into pillowy corn tortillas and—similar to the traditional Spanish stew—showering them with lime-splashed figs and crispy fried onions. $23.

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East Village

Chicken taco at Empellón al Pastor

The latest addition to his Empellon mini empire may be zoomed in on Mexico City’s pineapple-and-pork al pastor taco, but it’s Alex Stupak’s humble chicken fold-up that really wows. Cradled inside a single house-made tortilla—a delicately corny thing, made from non-GMO Indiana corn that’s ground and nixtamalized on premises—juicy, stewed pulls of chipotle-kicked chicken come showered simply in bright cilantro and minced onion. Take that, Taco Bell. $4.

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East Village

Burrito at Mission Cantina

The San Francisco-inspired bundles at Danny Bowien’s Mexican hot spot are more sophisticated than their beachy brethren, but this is New York—what d’ya expect? Wrapped in a pliant, barely-browned flour tortilla, the riceless parcel gives extra real estate to brothy pinto beans, hearty chunks of guacamole, tart salsa verde and meat options like gamey lamb and porky, orange-kissed carnitas. It’s enough to make a Califnorian seethe in jealousy. $13. 

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Lower East Side

Nachos at Taqueria Diana

The nachos at this pocket-sized cantina are so contrastingly huge, they need to be doled out on a baking sheet. The gloriously greasy mountain of fresh-from-the-fryer corn chips are smothered in queso fresco, sour cream, house-made salsa and choice of beans, meat and extras—commit to the mess with rich refried beans, globs of creamy guacamole and succulent spit-roasted pork. Warning: your pants button will likely pop but you won’t mind one bit. $7.58.

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East Village