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El Mitote: Embracing regional Mexican cuisine

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Over the last decade, New York has been the backdrop for Mexican cuisine’s redefinition. What had once been described as simply Tex-Mex or Baja-Mex with fajitas and tacos as staples, Mexican food has evolved toward a more authentic interpretation of the rich flavors of the country’s regional cooking. As part of this movement, El Mitote reflects the country’s culinary roots with a contemporary representation of classic dishes from the Jalisco region.

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Veteran restaurateur Cristina Castañeda (Café Frida, Café Ronda) is considered one of the pioneers in redefining Mexican cuisine in New York. With El Mitote, Ms. Castañeda has teamed up with Chef Miguel Espinoza to pay homage to her hometown of Guadalajara with a menu that showcases authentic street food with a modern touch. Ms. Castañeda keeps things casual and offers a versatile menu that will please everyone without breaking the bank.

Located on the Upper West Side, El Mitote evokes the comfortable setting of a neighborhood luncheonette. Hand painted murals envelop the vibrant dining space, while rhythmic tunes play overhead setting the tone for an intimate yet laid back dining experience. Take advantage of the opportunity to people watch while dining alfresco on Columbus Avenue.

Embrace this authentic experience with a thirst quenching homemade agua fresca ($2.95)—the Jamaica with hibiscus is exquisite. Margarita lovers will appreciate the variety of tequilas and mezcals available to create some unique combinations such as tamarindo and hibiscus ($10.50). If you prefer to go with beer, El Mitote offers micheladas and cheladas ($7)—imagine your favorite beer with fresh lime and a splash of Tabasco, soy or Worcestershire sauce—it packs a punch.

Enjoy your drink while sampling some of the botanas including chiles toreados ($5.00), ceviche ($8.95) and tangy guacamole ($8.95).

For the main course, El Mitote offers several signature dishes that feature everything from braised lamb to wild mushrooms to garlic shrimp. Consider ordering one of the tortas­—a griddle Mexican sandwich made with home-baked birote bread served with a smear of refried beans, onions, lettuce, tomato, and crema. The pepito ($11.95) features savory beer braised brisket and creamy avocado—a hearty sandwich that will satisfy your taste buds. If you prefer vegetables, the sabina ($9.95) offers the perfect combination of wild mushrooms and melted cheese.

The molletes offer something a little differentan open-faced sandwich toasted and topped with refried beans and melted cheese. Add spiced pork carnitas ($6.25) or braised lamb, onion and cilantro ($6.95) for an enticing blend of flavors.

Take your sandwich to another level as an ahogadas tapatia—a Guadalajara style torta “drowned” in a hot tomato broth with crema, onion, and shredded lettuce. The chipotle garlic shrimp ($12.95) is perfectly seasoned to complement the broth. This dish is a bit messy, so don't hesitate to use your fork.

If you want to stick with something a little more familiar, El Mitote features an array of antojitos including tacos, tostadas and quesadillas. Regardless of what you order, the pickled jalapeños are a must.

Given the number of restaurants opening with a focus on regional Mexican cuisine, it might be challenging to figure out which one is the real deal versus a short-lived experiment; however, when all the dust settles from the culinary trend El Mitote’s genuine menu of street food favorites from Guadalajara matched with a comfortable neighborhood setting will ensure that this eatery is here to stay.

El Mitote
208 Columbus Avenue
New York, New York 10023
212-874-2929
www.elmitoteny.com

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