Empellon Cocina, East Village, New York City

February 21, 2013

Empellon Cocina in the East Village is the Alex Stupak’s second Mexican eatery, with the first being Empellon Taqueria across town in the West Village. This is not a local taco joint nor will you find traditional nachos, enchiladas or chile rellenos. Instead Empellon Cocina serves up elegantly composed plates with familiar Mexican-inspired flavors.

Those unusual Mexican presentations began with the margaritas. I sampled the Reposado Margarita made with handcrafted barrel-aged Espolón premium tequila with notes of butterscotch, pepper and vanilla combined with fresh lemon juice and agave nectar ($15), my companion the ¿Por Que No? made with Pueblo Viejo Blanco tequila ($13) with cilantro and spicy green Serrano chile. Both were unusually flavorful.

To begin, we chose two salsas from the seven unusual ones offered, with a basket of house made crisp-baked masa chips: The Tomatillo Chipotle ($3) with chipotle, roasted garlic, roasted tomatillos and honey; and the spicy Salsa de Arbol ($3) from arbol, cider vinegar, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and spices. We added an order of their  guacamole with pistachios accompanied with a pistachio salsa, made from ground pistachios and 12-year aged vinegar.

Next we had the composed Nantucket bay scallop ceviche with fresh butternut squash, decorated with lemon curd and paper-thin jalapenos ($17) and, three chilled Mayan prawns ($15) nestled in a wave of crispy mousse-filled masa, garnished with lettuce,  jalapenos and salsa verde. Both were small portions with deliciously interesting flavors.

Next we ordered two “tacos” including  chilled, cured red snapper on a hot tortilla tacos with sesame habanera salsa and red onion ($12), and  — because of the fishy flavor and mushy texture the only dish I did not like — Peekytoe Crab Cake tacos with osetra guacamole ($16).  Although the portions are small, we never made it to the main dishes, filling up on the crispy masa and salsas.

Worth the visit for sure. I recommend giving Empellon Cocina a try!


- bonnie
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Empellon Cocina
105 1st Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 780-0999
Empellón Cocina on Urbanspoon

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