One bite of Gabriela Hernandez’s cooking and restaurateur Artie Cutler knew he had to open a restaurant with her. Cutler, the mastermind behind such revolutionary restaurants as the Italian-inspired Carmine's and the Southern-inflected Virgil's Real BBQ, began devising the eatery. Meanwhile, Hernandez got to work on an authentic menu with the help of her family who, like the recipes that Cutler loved so much, came from the heart of Mexico. The doors of Gabriela’s Restaurant opened in 1992, and, despite Hernandez’s retirement, the staff continues to follow her traditional recipes today. The menu features such south-of-the-border favorites as fish tacos, empanadas filled with organic chicken, fajitas, enchiladas, and vegetarian chile rellenos, each in what Time Out New York describes as “heaping portions." To crown the zesty feasts, the staff curates a classic dessert menu of flan and fried ice cream, as well as an after-dinner tequila selection from their well-stocked bar.
To say that you can order nearly any Mexican dish you want at Cinco de Mayo isn't an exaggeration. Not only do they have a seemingly endless menu that includes burritos, sopas, enchiladas, and nearly 20 platos principales, but they even give you the option to build your own fajitas. The sizzling skillets are brought to your table with your choice of meat, such as lean grilled chicken or strips of skirt steak. If choosing from all these dishes feels like an impossible task, then opt for one of the many combination options, including Pancho's Trio, which has three different burritos blanketed in three different sauces.
Ah Chihuahua's impressive spread of healthy Southwestern and Latin fare combines traditional Mexican favorites with crowd-pleasing plates of Tex-Mex cuisine. With fajita and enchilada plates, corn or low-carb wheat tortillas formally enrobe sizzling veggies and succulent cuts of chicken or juicy steak and beef. Low-fat mozzarella drapes itself over saucy enchiladas suizas. Tasty taco shells deliver mouthwatering packages of beef or baked chicken, and crispy chips ferry passengers of freshly made guacamole to awaiting mouths.
Oaxaca Taqueria captures the essence of Mexico's street vendors with authentic Mexican food made fresh daily with local and environmentally sustainable ingredients. Their devotion to all-natural meats and crisp garden-grown veggies hasn't gone unnoticed. The New York Times, Time Out New York, and New York Magazine lavished praise upon the food at Oaxaca's four locations, causing the food to become as full of itself as the patrons who frequent the eatery. Known for their light tacos and enchiladas, Oaxaca's chefs stuff carne asada, stewed chicken, and frijoles onto or into corn tortillas for entrees. They grill their Mexican sandwiches, known as tortas, on talera bread, and they serve heaps of their three entrees with rice and beans when catering. Each location boasts a daily lunch special featuring one of their three mainstays, which guests can with one of their traditional beverages such as jarritos or horchata.
Taka Taka’s chefs' cross-continental fusion of Japanese and Mexican cuisines results in spicy creations, including sushi rolls dusted in chipotle flavorings alongside tacos stuffed with tempura meats or sesame sauces. These mixed plates arrive tableside via a conveyor belt, a style of dining popularized in Tokyo in the late 1950s, when many factory assembly robots left their positions to pursue becoming sushi chefs. As the conveyor belts parade the vibrant, artful dishes in front of guests, they grab their desired plate as it appears or make a special order if they don’t see what they seek. Staffers cleverly color-code the plates to indicate price, with little numbers corresponding to the menu, which details the ingredients hidden within each wrapped tortilla or seaweed leaf.
Dancing patrons regularly tap toes against the elegant environs of El Habanero Mexican Cocina, where chefs construct authentic Mexican dishes with a finesse that has earned a loyal following. Like Candy Land's reigning monarch, burritos, enchiladas, seafood, and steaks dress up in flavorful accessories, including jalapeño coleslaw, guajillo, and mole poblano. Behind a full bar, the chefs' cocktail-crafting brethren swirl fresh fruit juices with top-quality tequilas and vodkas to concoct margaritas, mojitos, and martinis.
A crimson booth spans the length of El Habanero Mexican Cocina's interior, cushioning diners amid exposed-brick walls and flat-screen TVs. Occasionally, a live DJ spins a spirited soundtrack to get diners dancing or crocheting atop sleek hardwood floor.