Ole!: The Haute 5 Mexican Restaurants in New York City

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In honor of Cinco De Mayo, warm weather and margaritas everywhere, we bring you the Haute 5 Mexican Restaurants.

La Esquina Brasserie & Tequila Bar

There may not be a velvet rope, but La Esquina Brasserie & Tequila Bar just may be the city’s most exclusive Mexican restaurant. (Not that we knew there was even a competition.) The notoriously hard to get in restaurant is hidden beneath a taqueria, the entrance shrouded behind an “Employees Only” sign. As Frank Bruni put it, “La Esquina is sort of like Studio 54 with chipotle subbing for cocaine.” The cocktails are superb, the tequila bar is extensive and sure the food is good–but that’s not really why you’re there is it?

La Esquina Brasserie & Tequila Bar is located at 106 Kenmare St. Reservations, which can be made at (646) 613-7100, are recommended.


If you had to pick a hub for fine dining in New York, you might say the Time Warner Center or Restaurant Row. First Avenue may not make it until later on the list—it might make it at all—and that would be a mistake. Restaurateur Richard Sandoval’s Maya offers some of the city’s finest contemporary Mexican cuisine and Sushi Seki down the block the block serves some of the city’s best sushi to chefs in the know.  Maya is also having a special Cinco de Mayo celebration on Wednesday. Stop by after 5pm for the famous handcrafted margaritas, dinner and live mariachi music. So go ahead, make the trek east. You’ll be glad you did.

Maya is located at 1191 First Avenue, Between 64th & 65th


With restaurants that set the standard in contemporary Mexican fare around the world, Richard Sandoval is busy. So busy, he wound up on our list twice. Sandoval joined forces with opera star Placido Domingo to create Pampano, which serves up modern Mexican cuisine. The menu, which focuses on seafood, is reason enough to visit, but the restaurant’s outdoor seating makes it a can’t-miss summertime destination. Pampano is also holding a special four-course Mother’s Day dinner this Sunday.

Pampano is located at 209 East 49th Street.


Zarela has been a New York staple since the eighties, setting the standard for great Mexican cuisine in the city. The midtown restaurant is family-friendly dby day, and serves up a strong margarita by night. Loyal customers continue to return for signature dishes like red snapper hash and rice with poblano chiles and sour cream.

Zarela is located at 953 2nd Avenue.


Centrico is the brainchild of Zarela owner Zarela Martinez’ son Aarón Sanchez.

In fact, Centrico is sort of like the generation of Zarela. The downtown restaurant is hipper, sleeker and helmed by Drew Nieporent (Nobu, Tribeca Grill). Centrico is a great destination for groups and offers a slew of small plate items that are perfect for sharing. Centrico’s terrace is another summer essential and a perfect happy hour destination.

Centrico is located at 211 West Broadway.

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