What did I just hear? The sound of acoustic guitar music and pork belly sizzling on an open grill? Yes. With today’s opening of Tequila Park, the new tequila and taqueria at the Hudson Hotel, NYers are offered an evening of sipping strawberry-mint and pineapple-caramel margaritas, holding a maple-braised taco in one hand and kimchi shrimp nachos in the other, and reclining into a sea of throw pillows – all to the sweet sounds of live, acoustic guitar music and a 20-foot outdoor movie screen playing black-and-white classics.
With 40 kinds of tequilas and an actual taco shack doling out Sriracha cheese steak and tuna tacos, Tequila Park is basically that place you go when you 1. Can’t afford to go to Mexico 2. Are sick of eating pasta and 3. Have a “thing” for sexy, scruffy acoustic guitar players.
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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.
Over in Brentwood, Sweet Crush Ice Bar has opened its doors with an Americanized version of a traditional Asian shaved ice shop, serving water- and milk-based desserts in flavors like Earl Grey, peanut butter, espresso, blood orange, lychee, and more. It’s one of those self-serving joints where you spoon on six different toppings and still go back for more.
And there are some things to be said for five- and six-dollar tacos. "Eff that," quickly comes to mind. Luckily, there are places where you can get three decent fish tacos all over this city for that same price. The tacos at Diablo in Silver Lake aren’t your six-inch tilapia dealios; they’re large tacos stuffed with things like maple fried chicken, braised pork belly and caramelized bananas, grilled octopus and marble potatoes, and butter-roasted Maine lobster and fried brioche – to name a few. If that doesn’t entice you, then perhaps Diablo’s take on the michelada will get you at their long communal table: It’s a popsicle you dip in a pitcher of beer. Trust us. It works.