If you want good, deliciously-seasoned Mexican food in NYC at moderate prices, head to Horchata de Nueva York.
It opened back in March of 2014. It is located at 470 Sixth Avenue near 12th Street in NYC’s West Village. I decided to revisit it after having attended a birthday party there a few months ago.
Entering the dining area, you’ll pass a long bar where young professionals holds court while nursing drinks containing tequila or rum. The well-stocked bar features backlit cubicles with a golden-colored lighting.
The décor is simple yet authentic. The rectangular dining room seats roughly 50 people. Dim lighting is provided by wall sconces. Edison bulbs hang from a tin ceiling — evoking a Mexican hacienda. Contemporary music wafts out of speakers placed to provide stereo sound. Booths for two diners line one wall; booths for four line the opposite wall. If you go with a group of 8-10 people, you’re in luck. Two rectangular tables with benches line the center of the comedor (dining room). The benches and seats are covered in colorfully striped Mexican-inspired upholstery evoking colors and patterns you might see in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera. Miniature cacti in square glass vases and flickering candles dot wooden tables. The top half of the walls expose bricks; the bottom half features white tiles. A round, multi-colored piece of flatware as an objet d’art hangs on the rear wall.
The food menu offers a lot: tacos, quesadillas, antojitos, Ensaladas (salads), platos fuertes (large plates), sides and dulce (desserts). You’ll be able to choose from dishes with chicken, beef, fish, or pork. A special icon on the menu denotes vegetarian dishes for those who want to avoid carne (meat).
To wet my palate, I decided to order the restaurant’s namesake drink: horchata with espresso called “The Pick Me Up” ($9). In case you have never had horchata, it is rice milk seasoned with cinnamon, sugar and vanilla extract.
If you love the tangy taste of cinnamon, you’ll love the horchata which was refreshing served cold. You can choose from a variety of drinks: margarita, traditional Mexican sodas ($6) in fruity favors, mojitos ($13-$14), Mexican beers including Corona, Dos Equis Amber and Negra Modelo($7-$8), wine by the glass ($11) or sangria ($11/glass). If so inclined, you can ask to see a list of Tequilas and Mezcals.
What’s Mexican food without nachos and guacamole to kick off a meal? Here you’ll find house-made hearty nachos. They seemed to be the kind deep-fried in oil which placed in a bag would show rings of oil. So if you don’t mind a little oil, I recommend them. The thick guacamole made of freshly ground avocados with a touch of lime with a tomato garnish was sublime and authentic.
The menu offers a range of antojitos (small plates) that you can share –ranging from $11-$13. I started with the Flautas ($11), rolled tortillas filled with chicken, retried black beans, cotija (or cow’s milk) cheese and a side of avocado salsa. My tortilla was warm and crispy and flaky. It actually evoked the texture of an egg roll you might get at a Chinese restaurant. The chicken was warm and tender and the cotija cheese provided just a hint of salt.
For Segundo plato (or second plate/entrée), I opted for the tacos de bistec (steak tacos) ($14), with flat iron steak, cotija cheese, and tomatillo-avocado salsa. Steak was well-grilled to the perfect temperature. It could have been a bit more tender but diced into cubes the steak went down my throat easily after a few seconds of chewing.
My guest tried the hongo (“mushroom”) quesadilla, which I sampled. It’s made with roasted crimini mushrooms, huitlacoche (a fungus that grows on corn and has a flavor the compared to mushrooms), epazote (a lemony-flavored herb that grows in Mexico and is said to have anti-flatulent properties!) and Oaxaca cheese. The Horchata version comes topped with tomatillo-avocado salsa verde ($14), which had bite without being overbearing.
After trying a variety of dishes, I was full and satisfied. Planning to head to the gym for a workout tomorrow, I skipped the dessert. But, I will definitely try one next time. Based on the menu, desserts range from $7-9. You could choose from a variety of desserts: flan de horchata ($7) or papi churros ($9), describes on the menu as being seasoned with Oaxaca chile, cinnamon and a dark chocolate sauce.
That’s the Lowdown!