This past holiday season our savior was April Bloomfield and business partner Ken Friedman who brought Salvation Taco to the Pod 39 Hotel in Murray Hill. In this religious-icon-filled space, you won’t find Bloomfield’s notorious British-done-well cuisine that she is famous for at the Spotted Pig. Nor will you find a seafood theme like her other hotel restaurant, the John Dory Oyster Bar, which is in the Ace Hotel in Flatiron. You will, however, find Bloomfield’s notorious nose-to-tail mantra prevalent, much like it is at the Breslin, with dishes like lamb’s tongue torta and crispy pig’s ear.
Fonda chef Roberto Santibañez advised the team on the nuances of the menu, and you can see his Latin American influence in dishes like the braised short rib torta, cauliflower with curried crema taco, and the pork belly and pineapple salad. “It’s a taco place that’s not Mexican,” Santibañez told Zagat. “It’s a New York mix of all sorts.”
To drink, bartender Sam Anderson, who created the cocktail list of Pod 39’s rooftop bar, manages the list of beverages that get served tableside, or at the restaurant’s long, fiesta-tinged bar.
The name Salvation Tacos stems from the building’s previous tenant, a Salvation Army. Though, nothing is second hand or second rate, but for $3 a taco, you can still get a great deal.
Jumping the boat, but not their boat-shaped restaurant, the folks behind Lure Fishbar and Burger & Barrel have caught on to the Mexican trend that has swept the city. Enter El Toro Blanco, which opened yesterday in the West Village.
The soft orange light, concrete floors, warm wood furniture, cool tiled walls, and deep, half moon-shaped booths give the new joint a sleek, Mad Men-meets-Spanish-lunchroom vibe. However, the sliver of a shiny, black-topped bar in one corner brings the décor to the modern world, and the list of over 75 tequilas and mezcals puts it right on par with other Mexican bars around like Mayahuel, Viktor & Spoils, and Empellon Cocina.
Of course, El Toro Blanco doesn’t stop at drinks. They offer an array of pan-Mexican dishes executed by head chef Josh Capon and consulting chef Scott Lindquist, including Lobster Puerto Nuevo, tuna tartare tacos, Salmon Parillada, and their Sonoran Cheese Crisp, which is made with Mexican cheese, poblano rajas, roasted tomato, and epazote. They also have a guacamole bar and are cooking up a whole roasted goat wrapped in banana leaf that gets slow roasted for six hours and that, according to their website, may become the Sunday special.
Based on chef Josh Capon’s track record, the success of Lure Fishbar, and the photos they have posted of the dishes, all of El Toro Blanco looks pretty special, Sunday or no.