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.
Café Ollin is “a terrific Mexican café that can satisfy any appetite,” lauds Dave Evans, host of TV show $9.99. And he’s not the only one trying to secure a spot at the tiny, neighborhood eatery. The vibrant blue and green hues that saturate the café’s exterior bleed into the narrow dining room, where guests have a hard time paying attention to anything other than their large portions of traditional Mexican cuisine. The artistically patterned fabrics that cover each table largely go unnoticed, thanks to the sensory feast that’s headlined by tortas, tacos, and quesadillas stuffed with salted beef, oaxacan cheese, or cow tongue. Café Ollin's cemitas are another perennial favorite, as noted by $9.99 These Puebla–style sandwiches are filled with as much seasoned meat, lettuce, and avocado as one might reasonably expect from a piñata of comparable size.
A stone's throw from the theater district, Sombrero Restaurant sates pre- and postshow cravings for dramatically zesty eats. Sizzling entrees draw flavors from traditional Spanish cuisine and Mayan fish fries that remain popular on the Yucatán Peninsula. A full bar lubricates conversation throughout, and bottles of libations sparkle atop the uplit backsplash like bottled sunlight or a sports drink teeming with electricity.
Goldenrod walls and polished red wood dye the interior of Sombrero Restaurant the color of a desert sunset, replete with an overhead chandelier woven in the shape of stars. Mexican-style artwork in the same warm reds and yellows line the walls, and potted palms add pops of natural color to the milieu. When the sun's rays are strong enough to warm the atmosphere, Sombrero opens an outdoor patio for alfresco dining or spontaneous renditions of "Summertime."
Burrito Joint's meal maestros stuff traditional Mexican fare with the freshest fillings available. The cooks steadfastly refuse to employ reheated or frozen ingredients, banning microwave ovens and outlawing Mr. Freeze from the kitchen. The Joint's nine varieties of burrito wrap a whole-wheat or white-flour tortilla around a choice of protein such as steak, tofu, or carnitas pork, with additional fillings including black or pinto beans and lime cilantro. Burrito Joint's menu fills out with Kick Ass fajitas, Bravas enchiladas, and Bumpin' tacos such as the original baja fish, a creation that nestles grilled or breaded tilapia inside soft corn tortillas, all crowned with chopped cabbage, mild salsa roja, and chipotle-ranch sauce.
Antojeria La Popular is not a typical Mexican eatery. UrbanDaddy calls it "subversive," Zagat says it "took a little risk." There is no better dish to confirm this fact than the Oaxaca tostada, a mildly named menu item with an unorthodox ingredient: deep-fried crickets, seasoned with lime and piled with guacamole and crema. This is but one of the dishes that populates a menu inspired by the kind of food you'd find by simply walking the streets of Mexico. More familiar flavors lie in the Colima, a blue-corn tostada adorned with raw tuna, avocado, chipotle mayo, and salsa verde, and the Monterrey, a taco filled with chorizo, chicharrón, and sirloin with salsa roja. The drinks are just as authentic as the food, as mixologists blend cocktails of horchata with white wine and guava nectar with prosecco, and create four styles of micheladas by mixing beer with a range of exotic ingredients. Like having dinner in a gingerbread house with no doors, it would be unwise to skip dessert—Antojeria La Popular honors street-food tradition right down to the sweets with a trio of paletas, small popsicles in a variety of seasonal flavors.
Brothers Leo and Oliver Kremer loved eating their San Fran taqueria so much, they added an extra day so they could eat it “eight days a week.” Their healthy obsession migrated east with the brothers, who were saddened to learn their new location didn’t supply them with the tastes they were craving. In an effort to save their palates, they opened Do Toros Taqueria and introduced their recipes to New Yorkers. Their menu is short and simple with a collection of tacos, quesadillas, salads, or burritos stuffed with rice, beans, cheese, and salsa and sour cream. The food is served fast and fresh and is what the New York Times called, “filling without being excessive.” The restaurant cooks with chicken that is locally raised and fed a vegetarian diet, and the pinto and black beans are organic, sourced locally, and fed a diet of hugs and kisses. The brothers didn’t skimp sustainability in the decor either. Locations feature custom light fixtures, reclaimed wood counters, and thermal receipt paper that is BPA-free. They supply diners with compostable plates, cups, straws, and napkins and compost kitchen food waste.