New York: Top 10 Downtown Joints to Launch a Noche Mexicana

Mayahuel (East Village) – Cocktail connoisseurs of Death & Co. build a tequila tabernacle to namesake goddess of pulque and agave. Dark, sexy atmo coupled with the smart pours will have you sinning and confessing, alternately. ● La Esquina (Nolita) – Bar scene with authentic Mexican food from über-scenesters Serge and Cordell. Dungeon chic and tacos. Not as stealth as at the start, but still holding its own. ● Los Feliz (Lower East Side) – Fat Baby peeps continue their colonization of Hell Square with South of the Border entry. La Esquina meets Spitzer’s over margaritas. Come get feliz.

Su Casa (Greenwich Village) – Speakeasy entry, small plates, extensive tequila list: zeitgeist is in full effect at this buzzy Mexican-style stealth spot. More style than you could ever hope to experience this close to a Qdoba, ● Mercadito Cantina (East Village) – If Momofuku were a taqueria. Narrow blond-wood bonanza, determined to spread the love of Oaxacan flavor. No license for hard liquor, but cocktails fake it admirably with “Tric-quila.” ● Papatzul (Soho) – Complex Mexican fare, can feel unexpected if you’re used to three hard-shell tacos and a side of E. coli from the local Taco Hell. Enough free-flowing tequila to dislodge the stick from most anyone’s ass. ● Cabrito (West Village) – Turquoise walls, red light bulbs, no-res policy give LES feel to hopping W. Vill. hacienda. Energetic vibes stoked by Smokin’ Durazno Fizz, made of peach, honey, and tequila. ● Móle (Lower East Side) – Postage-stamp-sized joint tricked out with Mexican tchotchkes and Talavera tile, looks good in the candlelight. Damn fine margaritas, with nary a drop of sour mix in sight. ● Agave (West Village) – Mahi mahi tacos swim past your eyes in a colorful dining room of adobe walls, mahogany floors, and trellised ceilings. Tank up from the endless tequila list, wander into the mountains to hallucinate yourself stupid while eating lobster and mango quesadillas. ● Barrio Chino (Lower East Side) – Comfy, serene, open to the LES street, which gets less barrio and less Chino every day. Something about agave makes us sin profusely. Good eats, too, should you be in the market for tacos and tortas.

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