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The 23 Most ‘Aesthetic’ Mexican Restaurants in NYC

It’s always the battle of the states when it comes to food. While Texas or California might claim to hold the title of the nation’s ‘Best Mexican Food,’ we’re proclaiming that New York City has a strong case to compete. From handmade tortillas to mezcal, there are dozens of restaurants dedicated to bringing the best Mexican food into the city.

Here are 23 Mexican restaurants where you can count on food that tastes good and an ambiance that looks and feels good.

1. tán

photo: tannyc

Tan restaurant is a new addition to the vibrant dining scene in NYC, offering a unique coastal Latin dining experience. With its inspiration drawn from the energy and vibe of Tulum and the Yucatán peninsula, Tan offers a raw yet elevated atmosphere throughout the restaurant, with lush flora and bespoke seafood displays. The menu features hyper-modern Mexican fare with a focus on ingredients sourced directly from the Yucatán, such as recados, corn, Oaxacan chiles, and grasshoppers. The space also boasts a separate lounge area, lúm, which offers a more intimate and moody ambiance.

2. Ixta

photo: ixta

Ixta Cocina is an upscale Mexican restaurant located on the Lower East Side. It serves Oaxaca and regional Mexican cuisine with a twist, along with imported artisanal mezcal and tequila handpicked from various regions of Mexico. The restaurant features a Tulum-themed atmosphere, with rattan chandeliers and green plants. The menu is known for its savory housemade Oaxacan moles.

3. Claro

photo: claro

Everyday feels like a fiesta when you’re at Claro. From the greenery to the vibrant tiles and unique tableware, the details are what makes this spot charming. Did we mention the dreamy backyard patio with string lights? Executive Chef T.J. Steel loved Oaxacan food and culture so much that he decided to bring a taste to New York. Pro tip: they have mezcal flights that you can sample between you and your date!

4. La Barca Cantina

photo: labarcacantina

You can’t help but be on cloud nine when you pay a visit to this ‘floating’ restaurant! La Barca Cantina boasts the honor of being New York City’s first floating restaurant. Prepare for a fun evening of indulging in some street-style tacos while on a yacht featuring panoramic views of the Hudson River. Pro tip: book a pass to dine and go sailing at primetime to capture you and your friends cheers’ing at sunset.

5. Tacocina

photo: clairelarkins

This taco stand will be a step up from any other food stand that you’ve ever seen! Add Tacocina to your day of exploring in Williamsburg. This outdoor food joint features live music, beautiful plants, colorful seating, and views of the East River. The vibe is casual yet festive and would make a pretty pop of color to your Instagram feed.

6. Vida Verde

photo: nybucketlist

You’ll want to venture to Midtown to experience Vida Verde’s ‘Margarita Market’ rooftop. After all, we understand the struggle of finding a non-corporate spot in the neighborhood! This rooftop is on a first-come, first-serve basis, but is well worth the visit. Experience Mexican food and culture at this stunning spot that is adorned with a colorful mural, picturesque patio, and boozy drinks to make for a lively atmosphere.

7. Gran Electrica

photo: granelectricabk

Gran Electric is ‘rustic warehouse’ meets ‘bohemian garden.’ The merge of elements will remind you of Restoration Hardware. When you dine on their backyard patio, you’ll feel like you’re at a secret oasis surrounded by greenery and tucked away from the city. Located in the heart of DUMBO, stop on by for an authentic taste of Mexican cuisine and cocktails made up of tequila and mezcal from small-batch and artisan distillers.

8. Gitano Island

photo: gitanoisland

New York or Tulum? If the weather is warm enough – Gitano Island is a truly unique dining experience in the city. To get there, you’ll need to take a short ferry across to Governors Island from Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn. Once you arrive, you’ll feel like you’ve left New York entirely and arrived on the sandy beaches of Mexico. The restaurant offers Mexican favorites like Guacamole, Queso Fundido, Carne Asada, and much more.

9. Somewhere in NoLita

photo: theplaceiwastellingyouabout

When Mexican cuisine meets rooftop vibes, enter Somewere in NoLita. This hotspot located at the top of the Nolitan Hotel offers Panoramic views of New York City all from the charming neighborhood of NoLita. Here you can enjoy summery fresh drinks + tacos and other Mexican options. Pro-Tip: you’ll need to make a reservation if you’re planning on dining here.

10. The Ready Rooftop Bar

photo: thereadyrooftop

The Ready Rooftop is a lively spot above the Moxy Hotel in the East Village. The decor here is “eclectic” with string lights, a vine-strewn mural, and plastic milk crates holding the alcohol behind the bar. If you’re there over the holidays, they get uniquely seasonal with a Christmas Tree made up of large flamingo ornaments. If you come during day-time hours, enjoy the made-to-order fresh tacos and festive beverages such as Spice Spice Baby.

11. Empellon Al Pastor Rooftop

photo: empellonalpastor

Empellon Al Pastor Rooftop is a Mexican restaurant located on the rooftop of Pod 39 Hotel in Murray Hill. The restaurant offers stunning views of the city skyline and an abundance of outdoor seating. The menu features a variety of Mexican dishes with a contemporary twist, with a particular focus on tacos al pastor, made with spit-roasted pork and served with fresh toppings.  The outdoor bar can be accessed by the elevators to the 17th floor.

12. Empellon Midtown

photo: empellon

Located on 53rd & Madison Ave in Midtown, Empellon is the perfect spot for a lunch break or easy after-work eats. The restaurant is huge bi-level joint with bright tiled floors as well as brightly colored walls. If you come during lunch, there is a pre-fixe menu which offers an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert for $42. Pro-tip: Don’t miss out on the Corn Ice Cream Taco served in a mini waffle shell.

13. Taco Edition

photo: tacoedition

If you’re craving affordable tacos and a beachy vibe, Taco Edition is a great option. The interior is small but the feeling is homey with a mural bringing you back to your last tropical beach trip. While inside offers only a handful of seating options, there’s actually a surprising amount of space out back where you can enjoy your tacos away from the busy city streets.

14. Toro Loco

photo: curiousdogsees

Located in the heart of the Financial District, Toro Loco is a cute restaurant that pops out on Stone street. During the pandemic, they expanded their outdoor dining area to take over some of the street offering quite a bit more space. The cocktails here are tasty and they cover modern Mexican fare with a rustic charm. Pro-tip: there is a back patio that offers a nicer aesthetic than the dining out street side.

15. Jajaja Mexicana

photo: letsnomnom_

The vibe of Jajaja Mexicana feels like you’re being transported out of New York City into Old Mexico City. The interior is light and bright with tiled floors & an aesthetic way of falling-apart-walls. The bar is inviting with hanging lights and hanging plants. Did we mention this spot is also entirely vegan? This plant based restaurant has a couple of locations in the city but this one is our favorite

16. El Vez and Burrito Bar

photo: nycgo

Sometimes you want to skip New York City’s fancy dining scene and are just in the mood for a burrito. El Vez Burrito Bar offers a colorful spot to enjoy some classic burritos to satisfy that craving. The interior is funky with rustic tables, colorful artwork, and string lights strewn overhead. Pro-tip: If you come for happy hour, there are deals on both drinks and food.

17. Cantina Rooftop

photo: cantinarooftop

Cantina Rooftop Restaurant is a Mexican restaurant located in Hell’s Kitchen. This spot offers big skykline views of the city under the shade of some colorful umbrellas hung overhead the seating area. The menu at Cantina Rooftop Restaurant features a range of authentic Mexican dishes, including tacos, enchiladas, and fajitas, as well as an extensive selection of tequila-based cocktails. The vibrant and colorful atmosphere, with its décor inspired by Mexican culture, creates a festive and lively ambiance, making it a perfect destination for a night out with friends or a special occasion.

18. Oxomoco

photo: thenamestesa

Oxomoco restaurant is Michelin starred dining, paired with Michelin level décor. The interior is super dreamy and you are greeted by a huge skylight surrounded by hanging plants when you walk in. Below the skylight is a welcoming bar stacked with everything to make you the cocktail of your dreams. This is not your typical classical taco & quesadilla stop – the menu here is extremely unique with cuisine options you may have never seen.

19. Mexicue

photo: maggie_onthemove

Mexicue started from humble beginnings in the food truck industry. While they now have three separate locations in Manhattan – the inspiration of the food truck lifestyle is still very much there. The flavor profile is a unique blend of Mexican + BBQ = Mexicue. Your guests will be impressed by the rustic yet modern interior here making it perfect for an easy date night.

20. Tacombi

photo: tacombi

If you’re a NYC local, then you’ve certainly walked past a Tacombi. They have 10 different restaurants across the city all with a relatively similar vibe. The exterior of the one in Greenwich Village sure fits in with the neighborhood charm of brick façade. However, when you step inside, the space is light and bright with colorful tiles and a lively bar. These are the classic tacos you love with an unbeatable flavor profile.

21. Bar Tulix

photo: infatuation

Bar Tulix is a Mexican seafood restaurant by John McDonald of Mercer Street Hospitality and Chef/Owner Justin Bazdarich, known for his acclaimed restaurants Oxomoco and Speedy Romeo. The menu offers a unique blend of traditional Mexican flavors with a focus on fresh seafood. The restaurant’s atmosphere is chic, casual and fun, and it’s perfect for a night out with friends and family.

22. Chavela's

photo: chavelas

Chavela’s Restaurant is a Mexican eatery located in the Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn. The restaurant offers a relaxed and inviting atmosphere with colorful décor, murals, and a charming outdoor patio. The menu at Chavela’s features a variety of traditional Mexican dishes made from fresh ingredients, including tacos, enchiladas, and ceviche. The restaurant also boasts an extensive selection of tequila and mezcal cocktails, perfect for pairing with their delicious food.

23. The Black Ant

photo: blackantnyc

Do you know how Black Ant got their name? Because Black Ant is something you can order from their menu. The menu here is a creative spin on Traditional Mexican cuisine and specializes in dishes including ants and grasshoppers. If you’re an adventurous foodie, venture out to their back patio where you’ll find a gorgeous dining experience of florals and vines.

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