An article last year in the industry newsletter SmartBrief noted a rise in the popularity of Mexican food across the U.S. The piece emphasized that the increase in exposure was allowing restaurants more latitude and experimentation with their offerings, which in turn gave diners a chance to discover the diversity of this dynamic cuisine.
If you’re interested in celebrating the most romantic day of the year with an authentic Mexican fiesta, here are several possibilities to keep in mind.
Temerario, in Chelsea, is capturing the spirit of amore with a four-course prix fixe at $55 a person. Dinner begins with guacamole and proceeds on to the likes of taco de tortita — potato shrimp croquettes with salsa verde and Napa cabbage. The main events include enchilada de langosta, a cilantro crepe wrapped around Maine lobster, Chihuahua cheese, and avocado. For dessert it’s bunuelos with piloncillo, and rose Malbec ice cream. Dinner may be ordered à la carte as well or from the regular menu. Temerario, 198 Eighth Avenue, 212-645-2100.
The rise of Mexican cuisine has predictably spawned a number of restaurants that dish up authentic tapas, none more so than Lamano, which is offering a $75-per-person prix-fixe selection of tapas, plus two glasses of cava. Among the offerings you will find poached octopus with fingerling potatoes drizzled with pimento-scented extra virgin olive oil; and favada — cannellini beans studded with hunks of pork belly, morcilla, chorizo, tomato, and pimenton. Dessert is torrone, the nougat confection composed of honey and egg white, accompanied by Servilleta goat cheese and salsa. Lamano, 265 W. 20th Street, at Eighth Ave., 212-741-2398.
The Spanish word ofrenda translates as “offering,” and signifies a collection of objects placed on a ritual altar during the annual Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico. In New York Ofrenda is the name of a low-lit restaurant in the West Village that delivers imaginative turns on Mexican staples. The restaurant’s four-course $55 prix fixe features potato truffle croquettes with jalapeño cream; lobster enchiladas with a creamy tomato salsa, Chihuahua cheese, and crispy onions, and duck confit with rose petal mole, sweet potato, and queso fresco cream. Ofrenda, 113 Seventh Avenue South, 212-924-2305.
The Black Ant, featured in our run-down of New York restaurants that serve “coming of age” dishes, will be on its best behavior on Valentine’s Day — which means no grasshoppers on the special $65-a-head 5-course menu. What you will find is an amuse of Kumamoto oyster paired with porrusalda, verdolaga sorbet, and caviar. Taco de chicharron includes not only the crispy pork skin of the title but foie gras and fruit pico de gallo. Among the main courses is sweet potato gnocchi, with sage queso fresco, white truffles, and roasted chiles; and Colorado lamb loin tinctured with tomato cascabel sofrito, in a rose-petal thyme jus and accompanied by a goat cheese garbanzo croquette. The Black Ant, 60 Second Avenue, 212-598-0300.
The recently opened La Contenta Oeste on West 11th Street will offer a 4-course $50-per-person special Valentine’s Day menu. Details about the food have not been provided, but there will be fresh roses for the table and live music by Adderesound, a Mexican fusion group. La Contenta Oeste, 78 West 11th Street, 212-533-2233.