Mexican food is finally getting the spotlight it deserves in New York City.
Thanks to a slew of new restaurants opening this fall, there's more diversity than ever to the cuisine, says Julian Medina, the chef behind the popular Mexican eateries Toloache, Yerba Buena and the newly opened Tacuba in Astoria.
"America has sat too long enjoying the bare minimum of what Mexican cuisine can offer," says Medina. "Mexican food is a beautiful cuisine that can satisfy home-cooking cravers or delicate palate sophisticates [and] definitely deserves the appreciation it is presently receiving in NYC."
With so many interpretations of what's "authentic," Mexican cuisine also has tons of variety, says Chef Alex Stupak.
"It's an endless source of inspiration," says Stupak, who is opening his third restaurant in New York this fall, focused on al pastor-style tacos. "Mexican is one of the most deeply rooted, highly complicated and incredible cuisines ever."
Restaurants poised to open, such as the buzzed-about ALEGRE and Enrique Olvera's Cosme, are putting fresh takes on the genre, and both Medina and Stupak themselves experiment with Mexican cuisine by combining traditional ingredients with international influences. For instance, Medina uses his French and Japanese culinary experience to bring a new perspective to classic dishes like huitlacoche.
"[Mexican] is ... expansive and versatile, enabling chefs to take their own ideas and run far with them," says Medina.
Here are seven new -- and forthcoming -- Mexican restaurants to try this fall.
Known for his widely successful Mexican restaurants Toloache, Yerba Buena and Yerba Buena Perry, restaurateur Julian Medina is behind the recently opened Tacuba. In his first foray outside of Manhattan, Medina is focusing on making delicious south-of-the-border cuisine accessible and approachable to everyone, with dishes like seafood towers alongside liquor-filled pineapples-for-two. 35-01 36th St., Astoria, 718-786-2727, tacubanyc.com
JR Savage and Justin Galifi bring Mexican street food to Bar Nine in Hell's Kitchen with their recent pop-up eatery. Chef Rodolfo Muñoz, of Corvo Bianco acclaim, turns out flavorful Mexican fare in the casual space. According to the proprietors, who are currently looking for a performance flagship location, the inspiration for Gordo's comes from "Sunday family gatherings and late night taco stands." 807 Ninth Ave., 212-399-9336, gordoscantina.com
Empellon al Pastor
Chef Alex Stupak adds to his Empellon empire, which includes Empellon Ccocina and Empellon Taqueria, with Empellon al Pastor, opening this October. Just as the name suggests, the 40-seat outpost will focus primarily on al pastor-style tacos, as well as an extensive cocktail and bar menu. The space will include a large, communal table, behind which the tortillas will be made in-house. 132 St. Marks Pl., 212-367-0999, empellon.com
This is the latest restaurant from Chef Enrique Olvera, who earned a name for himself at his renowned Mexico City restaurant Pujol. At his first U.S. establishment, opening Oct. 28, you can expect contemporary fare with an emphasis on shared plates. 35 E. 21st St., 212-913-9659, cosmenyc.com
Teams behind Acme and Indochine are opening this new 120-seat Lower East Side spot later this month. The kitchen will be helmed by Chef Alex Lopez, formerly of Kittichai, and turn out Mexican cuisine with an Asian influence. Think dishes like tortilla soup with miniature Chinese pork dumplings and empanadas filled with shredded duck, five-spice foie gras and cognac. 151 Essex St., tijuana-picnic.com
Marc Meyer and Vicki Freeman, the team behind Cookshop and Hundred Acres, enter the Mexican food scene with their new restaurant, Rosie's, slated to open in early November. The East Village eatery will aim for an "honest" representation of Mexican food, including traditional preparations such as cooking on a comal flat-top grill. 29 E. Second St.
Eyed for a November opening, ALEGRE is an 80-seat restaurant from famed chef Aarón Sanchez. The restaurant pays homage to the chef's grandmother and mother, the acclaimed Mexican chef Zarela Martinez. Dishes will reflect his interpretations of their dishes, such as albondigas (meatballs) in a chipotle broth. 146 Orchard St., chefaaronsanchez.com
And here’s a look at other restaurants serving Hispanic cuisine, beyond Mexican eateries, that have opened or are opening in the city this fall and beyond.
Yann de Rochefort recently opened the third Manhattan location of his popular Spanish tapas bar, named for Barcelona’s renowned food market, El Mercado de la Boqueria, on the Upper East Side with Chef Marc Vidal, a Barcelona native, in tow making a menu of tapas and raciones. 1460 Second Ave., 212-343-2227
This massive marketplace, opening near the southern entrance to the High Line this Monday, will feature more than 25 diverse vendors, including outposts of the tapas bar Donostia and the tacqueria Tacombi. 52 Gansevoort St.
El Colmado Butchery
Seamus Mullen, the chef behind the Spanish restaurants Tertulia and El Colmado in Gotham West Market, will open a tapas bar and retail butcher in November. 53 Little West 12th St.
Ecuadorian-American and Iron Chef Jose Garces branches out of Philadelphia and into New York, opening his Spanish tapas restaurant Amada in Brookfield Plaza early next year. 250 Vesey St.