A city heaving with every cuisine imaginable, New York has a saturated restaurant scene that can make it hard to discern the good from the bad. We’ve gorged our way through the city’s Mexican restaurants, sipping the spiciest margarita and chowing down the freshest tacos, so the only thing you have to do is pick between Michelin stars and street-cart style.

Tacos, margaritas and NYC’s best spots for Mexican food

Oxomoco

Hands down the current coolest Mexican restaurant in New York City, Oxomoco is popular enough that tables here are hard to come by (they’re usually taken up by designers and start-up owners). In the heart of Greenpoint, its aesthetics are just what you’d expect of a talk-of-the-town restaurant in 2019 – muted tones, a sexy, curved bar and plants trailing from the ceiling. Beyond the crowd and the setting, the menu is a serious standout. The antojitos are fun to share with a big group – stock up on chilli-lime popcorn and smoked mango to tide you over while you sip on Oaxacan Summers, a cocktail chock-full of coconut rum and pineapple. For mains, the grilled sea bass with mole and vegan beet “chorizo” tacos are non-negotiables.

  • +1 646 688 4180
  • Go to Website
  • 128 Greenpoint Avenue
    Brooklyn
    NY 11222

La Esquina

A Mexican restaurant that’s an eatery, bar and cool underground club all in one, La Esquina is your one-stop-shop for a foolproof fabulous night out (without having to deal with a bouncer between dinner and dancing). There are a couple of locations, but the SoHo flagship is by far the best – step through its mildly tattered deli-style exterior, march downstairs and aim straight towards the kitchen to get to the heart of the action. The low-lit and sultry brick-lined interior perfectly sets the scene for a decadent night out, so throw on your favourite party dress and invite your closest friends for an intimate start to the evening with dinner here. The queso fundido with tortilla chips and shrimp and mixed veggies on the grill are great, especially when paired with sides such as nopales with pico de gallo and sautéed kale. Once you’ve fueled up, grab a mezcal mule and hit the dance floor.

Casa Enrique

A fabled Long Island City cantina, Casa Enrique’s unassuming front entrance conceals what goes on inside every night – that being tables full of people diving into the city’s only Michelin-starred Mexican dishes. The menu comprises classic choices done well, such as market-fish tacos, chicken enchiladas with salsa verde and mole over chicken and rice (the restaurant’s speciality). While we know that the term “authentic” is painfully overused, that’s just what the food here is. What’s more, thanks to the Casa Enrique’s distance from the streets of NoHo and Williamsburg, you’ll be far from the masses of trend-driven restaurant-goers (though the space is very photogenic).

  • +1 347 448 6040
  • Go to Website
  • 5-48 49th Avenue
    Long Island City
    NY 11101

Rosie’s

If there’s one thing you’ll notice about Rosie’s, it’s that it’s never, ever empty. As buzzing on a Tuesday evening as it is during Sunday brunch, this spot on the border of NoHo and the East Village is a 2nd-Avenue staple, and one that you can always count on for a good time. Whether you’re people-watching on the sprawling terrace in summer or huddling around the central bar, you can’t go wrong when you’re craving good Mexican in a fun environment – just be sure to make a booking if you don’t want to spend an hour waiting by the bar. The guacamole is fantastic and the chips are perfectly fried, so make sure to get a big basket for your group. The tacos delivered on a wooden platter are served on just-made tortillas, the tamarind margarita will have you asking for another right away and the kale enchiladas taste nowhere near as healthy as they sound. You really can’t go wrong here.

Jajaja Plantas Mexicana

A rare plant-based alternative to most of the city’s meat-heavy Mexican restaurants, Jajaja puts a green spin on your classic nachos by adding in vegan chorizo and turmeric-infused queso fundido, or whipping up empanadas with beetroot and pumpkin. The buffalo cauliflower, dinosaur-kale salad and hijiki-coconut calamari are also some of the best offerings on the menu, but be warned: the meat and dairy alternatives are as filling as they are delicious, so order your dishes little by little rather than going overboard from the beginning, no matter how tempting it is to get more. Locations in the Lower East Side, West Village and Brooklyn make this an easy after-work pitstop, and Jajaja does delivery.

ATLA

A sleek, dark concrete space filled with plants, low tables and a long bar, Atla welcomes NoHo’s chic crowd for late dinners before they saunter down the street to dance at Gospël. Dine here and you’ll be surrounded by the city’s movers and shakers from the world of art, fashion and film worlds as they enjoy a low-profile meal of fish milanese with cucumber. If you’re here with a crowd, get things started with the herb guacamole and margaritas before ordering the cauliflower tacos al pastor, arctic char and farmer’s cheese tostada roulettes and hearty maitake mushrooms in salsa verde. Bear in mind that the menu here leans toward the pricier side, so plan this for a glam night out.

Tacombi

Perhaps New York’s most popular Mexican spot for 20-somethings, Tacombi is the best taqueria in town. Originally a VW truck serving tacos on the beach in the Yucatán, it’s now got multiple locations across the city, as well as a Montauk address catering to Hamptonites. With 13 taco varieties on the menu at any given moment, there are far more options than the four or five choices you’ll find at your typical Mexican restaurant. Choose from classic al pastor, Baja crispy fish and Acapulco shrimp, or go for veggie offerings such as beer-battered poblano peppers and fresh avocado tostadas with spicy black bean spread. The restaurants are fun and colourful, and most of them maintain the taco-truck vibe from Tacombi’s early days.

La Contenta

A Lower East Side gem with only 14 seats, La Contenta is a vortex that draws local cool kids and partygoers, but manages to avoid attracting swells of tourists. Thanks to this balance (a trick feat in this neighbourhood), you’ll feel like you’re part of the in-crowd as you settle down at a corner table and order a round of pisco punch. The towering house nachos, tortilla soup and quesadillas with huitlacoche make a great start to your meal, followed by braised chicken in mole with plantain or pan-roasted shrimp enchiladas. The late-night weekend menu also has serious pull for those who have hit a few of the bars along Ludlow Street.

Claro

A Oaxacan restaurant in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighbourhood, Claro has a stunning outdoor terrace that makes it the perfect summertime destination, but also has one of the best Mexican menus in the city to see you through the remainder of the year. Each dish is prettily plated, and will instantly make you want to make your next booking once you take a bite – the creamy-meets-crunchy tuna-ceviche tostada, chorizo memelas with queso fresco and mole with short rib and spring onions are all hearty, bursting with flavour and beckon you to come back for more. The ‘black gold’ cocktails and micheladas make a visit here all the more worth it.

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