Eat the Latin Meal of Your Life Right Now in Tribeca

Let’s face it: despite playing host to the legend, Odeon, that veritably birthed modern restaurant cool in 1980, Tribeca will never be mistaken for the 1920s Weimar Republic.

There was a curious post-Millennial blip, when Tommy Saleh turned the Tribeca Grand into the molten core of the downtown music scene (Martina Topley-Bird performances, DJ gigs by Client, Gang of Four after show parties). But since then Tribeca has been quite content to host the annual glam-o-rama that is its namesake film festival, then retreat to its quintessence as a peaceful residential refuge for its well-heeled denizens.

But last autumn Paul Sevigny pulled his party train into the aforementioned hotel, and Paul’s Baby Grand instantly became the new celeb and fashion magnet, who still come to trot out their best sozzled karaoke game and trip-the-light into the wee hours. Yet right across the way on Church St, Los Americanos had already begun turning up the heat when it debuted in spring 2013.

With its sultry, retro-Havana good looks, you half expect to see Hemingway propping up the bar. Indeed, lovely co-proprietor (along with husband Tommy Hill) Emmanuelle LaSalle-Hill enlightens, “When you step into Los Americanos, we want you to be transported, away from the everyday grind of the city, into a little oasis of tropical warmth and flavor–with all the color, vibrancy and zest of Latin American tradition.”

LOS AMERICANOS - New York, NY

But the hotsy South American style is playfully juxtaposed with a charmingly cool sort of ’70s flea market chic, marked by linoleum floors, wood paneling and retro diner chairs (which have held such famous fannies as those belonging to Maggie Gyllenhall, Dean Winters, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sienna Miller). It’s perhaps what your parents’ rec room might have looked like if you’d grown up in Caracas… a little risqué, a little bit kitsch. Indeed, when we take to a particularly retro-groovy light fixture, LaSalle-Hill exclaims, “It reminds you of Carvel, right?!” (Referring, of course, to the iconic mid-Century style of so many of the storied ice cream brand’s shops.)

Naturally, then, it pulls an artier crowd, especially as night gives way to the morning hours. Indeed, it all carries on until 4 a.m. here, with DJs and jumpin’ live Latin música–thus matching stamina with Sevigny’s Baby. We can only tell you that post-midnight, Los Americanos proudly shakes its moneymaker.

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Oh, and the food and drink. While the tacos easily stand up against any in Gotham, more unexpected platos like Peruvian Fried Rice with pork belly, Chile Rellenos stuffed with quinoa, and Stewed Chicken Arepa can be combined into a sort of Latin American culinary tour, if you will. Cocktails — based on the five Latin spirits of tequila, mescal, cachaca, pisco, and rum — eschew all that trendy preciousness for pure South American kick. There are even a few tipples made with Coca Tea –we checked, it’s a legal buzz.

Of course, right next door is the ever provocative and ceaselessly buzzy Macao Trading Co (Patrick Fahey is a common partner). With its raucous, opium-den-styled Basement bar, it is the third prong of this unexpected nightlife trident. Lasalle-Hill credits Macao in particular with, “doing an amazing job of getting people to come down below Canal Street.”

Not that a stream of Greenpoint pickle-pushers are suddenly going to (god forbid) come flooding across the border. But if you’ve had enough of the Orchard and Ludlow crawl, may we suggest this fiery little corner of Northeastern Tribeca for your next all-nighter?

What you should eat at Los Americanos:

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PESCADO A LA VERACRUZANA, 
Market Fish Steamed in Banana Leaf, Tomato, Caperberries & Guajillo Chile Sauce, Served with White Rice

PERUVIAN FRIED RICE, 
Aji amarillo & Soy Fried Pork Belly, Kale, Jalepeno, Red Pepper & Cilantro

(Brunch) OMELETE PERICO , Carmelized Onion, Green Chili,Tomato, Cilantro, Garlic & Queso Fresco

What you should drink:

EL DIABLITO
, Mezcal, Tequila Blanco, Campari, Cocchi Americano, Espresso Bean

UNDER THE VOLCANO, Mezcal, Jalapeno / Rosemary, Aromatic Bitters, Fresh Lime, Sal De Gusano

New York Opening: Los Americanos

Between the likes of Bubby’s and Kitchenette, there’s a healthy selection of unhealthy selections in the triangle below Canal, but none is more rico or suave than Los Americanos, a pan-Latino comfort food spot from the folks behind neighborhood favorite Macao Trading Co.

Red leather banquettes, two-toned green tile floors (specifically, the tones of the Blue’s Clues guy’s shirt), and wood-paneled walls are vibrant enough to feel like the diner goes to Habana. A backlit selection of top-shelf tequilas and mezcals adds just enough modern swank to remind those waiting for a table that it’s still Tribeca. Also a reminder—the guacamole and plantain chips, which are a must to start, run a good $12. The top half of the menu offers a tour of Latino street fare, hitting pupusas, empanadas, and tacos. Another must is the pabellon arepa, with its shredded beef and rich maduros between two slices of a fried and crumbly Venezuelan corn cake. A generous goblet of poached octopus highlights the ceviches, blended with sliced red potatoes for added density.

The cocktail list deserves a thorough picking-over, but the house favorite, Under The Volcano, is a master blend of aroma and bite, thanks to its mezcal, rosemary, and jalapeño. Bottles of beer come from exotic locals—pop a Cristal from Peru—but our waitress insisted they’re safely refreshing (“The bartenders say they all taste like Bud Light.”)

The real glory of Los Americanos has to be its late-night menu. According to the owner, Billy Gilroy, “one guy in the kitchen” continues to crank out the aforementioned arepas, plates full of churros, and what has to be the best Cuban sandwich on the island of Manhattan, steadily until 4am. It may not be the cheapest of spots, but as one Gerardo Mejia once said, it’s the price you pay for being a gigolo. Rrrrrico.

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for Los Americanos, Bubby’s, Kitchenette, Macao Trading Co., Subscribe to the New York Happenings email newsletter; More by James Ramsay]