The Bronx's Mott Haven neighborhood, which can be easily accessed by subway from every corner of the city, has become a hotbed of Mexican restaurants in the last decade and not just the Oaxacan jewel La Morada, which is also on this list. Santa Clarita was founded in 1971 as a Puerto Rican and Dominican restaurant, but it was transformed into a Mexican one with a charming taco window, a more formal indoor dining room and a relaxing porch that connected them. The shepherd cylinder that turns in the window is particularly good, but tacos dorados (tacos rollados), enchiladas, or anything with shrimp are also recommended. El Mitote, which is named after an Aztec dance, focuses partly on street food in Guadalajara, the hometown of owner Cristina Castaneda, but it also offers classic Mexican food from around the country.
An early afternoon brunch that is served every day can include tinga tacos with wild mushrooms, Ranchero eggs or chilaquiles, and an impressive bowl of red chicken pozole, as spicy as it sounds, served with cream-painted toast as a side dish. Casa Carmen is the only place outside of Mexico where you can try some exclusive dishes from chef Carmen Ramírez Degollado's El Bajío restaurant empire. This exclusive place in Tribeca focuses on the traditional Mexican food that can be found in Veracruz, Puebla and Oaxaca, and all of which is served in a room with an earthy decor that makes you think you're in a hacienda-type resort. Order the refreshing ceviche with just the right amount of acid, the toast topped with shredded duck and the chicken dipped in a pleasant and sweet mole de Xico that is made with only 37 ingredients.
As you leave, you'll see a large common table that seems to host a council of supervillains (or, you know, a birthday party), so think about this place the next time you need to host a large group dinner. Mariscos El Submarino has several great raw seafood options, but a meal at this Jackson Heights Mexican restaurant isn't complete without an order of mixed ceviche. This huge bowl of prawns covered with jalapeño, fresh whitefish, and tender octopus is marinated in a creamy homemade sauce and then topped with several perfect slices of avocado. And it will transport you to a quiet seafood cabin next to the beach in Puerto Escondido.
While you're here, don't miss its black aguachile. This smoked seafood dish gets its color (and name) from a mix of charred green and red chilies that you'll see speckled in a loose sauce based on water and lime. Both dishes are accompanied by flat and crunchy tortillas so you can prepare your own toast with sour tilapia, shrimp, octopus and creamy slices of avocado. This small bar in the basement of Williamsburg serves glasses full of sweet and smoked mezcal and has a food menu with grilled shrimp, crispy tacos filled with smoked tuna and refried beans, chunky guacamole topped with macha sauce and other dishes that make us feel closer to Mexico City than geographically.
Come here for a drink or Happy Hour as soon as possible. It's not exactly a bar, not a full restaurant, but Aldama is worth it. Especially for a sensual date night or a meeting with friends where you both look handsome (and you know it). Customers come to Oxomoco at Greenpoint for its modern aesthetic, a huge skylight, a cascade of hanging plants and a decorative bar, but it's Oxomoco's exclusive menu offerings that keep them coming back time and time again.
This Michelin star restaurant, specializing in various regional cuisines from all over Mexico, is perhaps best known for its tacos, which can be filled with all kinds of dishes, from beetroot sausage to soft-shell crab and lamb barbecue. However, make sure you don't overlook their other colorful offerings, such as trout aguachile and shrimp ceviche toast, all made in their signature wood-burning oven. With its elegant interior and intense pink awning, Ruta Oaxaca del Astoria may take a playful approach to its dining experience, but its authentic Oaxacan food is, without a doubt, delicious. The restaurant is especially known for its drinks (its offer of 2-for-1 brunch cocktails is unbeatable) and for spreading its dishes with delicious mole.
Be sure to try their shrimp side dishes, which are served in half a sliced pineapple, as well as their chicken fritters. Unlike some of the fanciest restaurants in Manhattan, the serving sizes here are generous and you're sure to leave satisfied. Just a few decades ago, it was difficult to find many Mexican restaurant options in New York City. However, about 10 years ago, several new restaurants and street carts began turning on their tortilla grills for the first time.
Why? There is no consensus, but it is no coincidence that Mexicans have been the largest demographic group to immigrate to New York in the last 10 years. At Mesa Coyoacán, chef Iván García's favorite regional Mexican place, driven by products, organic ingredients and proteins from grass-fed animals, are mixed into classic dishes inspired by his childhood in Mexico City. With two chefs and a team of “mayoras” (esteemed older women) overseeing the menu, their traditional Mexican food focuses on recipes learned and improved by Titita. El Mitote, on the Upper West Side, focuses on food influenced by street food native to the Mexican city of Guadalajara.
New York City is now home to an incredible variety of Mexican establishments, from small taqueria shops to full-fledged restaurants, offering regional food from Yucatán to Sinaloa, as well as high-end places where exciting culinary inventions are being produced. Dressed in a soccer shirt for the Pumas DHL (his favorite team), the owner Galdino Molinero runs Tortas Neza with his wife, Lilia, where they pay homage to the Mexican tradition of eating a cake while watching a game, but also to the old working-class neighborhood of Molinero in Mexico City, Nezahualcóyotl (or Neza), which bears the name of a famous Aztec poet-king. For Angelenos and San Franciscans who long for home, New York has a couple of Cal-Mex locations, the most important of which is Lupe's East L. David Farley is a food and travel writer based in the West Village whose work appears regularly in the New York Times, National Geographic, the BBC and Food %26 Wine, among other publications.
But what makes this rather large part of Queens especially dear to him is the sense of community and Mexican pride that has taken root ever since immigrants from Oaxaca, Guerrero, the indigenous region of Mixteco and, above all, Puebla, began flocking to New York in the mid-90s. This food truck, parked every night on Roosevelt Avenue and 78th Street in Jackson Heights, single-handedly changed the Mexican dining scene in the city and helped start the trend for tacos de birria in New York and the rest of the country. The superstar Mexican chef (from the much-praised Pujol restaurant in Mexico City) Enrique Olvera wears the chef's hat at this Flatiron restaurant. If you've ever been involved in a serious conversation about burritos in New York City, taking a trip here is a must.
As Casa Pública approaches its fifth anniversary, the restaurant's dedication to regional Mexican home cooking continues to transport diners to Mexico City (interior design inspired by art deco and all that). It's a hot, sticky August day in Corona, Queens, and a taco teacher, a chef from Puebla and a food expert from Queens are looking inside the Tortas Neza food truck, analyzing owner Galdino Molinero's every move. The truth is that you can find really delicious Mexican food all over the city, whether it's a taco de birria in a truck under a subway track above the ground or in a restaurant with a tasting menu where you'll find some of the best ducks and corn of your entire life. This NoHo restaurant stands out on its own and serves an all-day menu with excellent Mexican dishes, including eggplant tacos with black sesame, an excellent beef birria and the gringa version of the taco al pastor (which you don't see much outside the El Fogoncito restaurant in Mexico City, where it was first created).