Empellón Cocina

Chef Alex Stupak’s second Mexican branch downtown received an overwhelming, standing ovation as soon as it opened at the beginning of 2012. The East Village spot is a bit smaller but a lot brighter with white walls and a less large graffiti mural than its West Village sister. However, it still rocks the skull-type artwork and black booths. The set-up is more open and easier to maneuver, and the circular, encompassed bar in the middle is a great place to perch, grab a drink and down some tequila, guac and salsa. The menu is designed for sharing, so you can be blown away by everything- what menu is not like this these days?

First off, seafood has never been my go-to at Mexican restaurants, but here, Stupak knows what’s up. The scallop and chilaquiles concoction is unbelievable, and the voluptuous scallops mixed with the crunchy tortillas is a dish that I couldn’t pry my hands off of. It’s not as creamy and saucy as it looks above because it kind of melts to the bottom of the skillet and absorbes into the chips. To start, def try the melted cheese with lobster and warm tortillas. ***Beware Texans: although this is not like our traditional melted queso, it’s well worth it and completes the Tex Mex fix. The squid dish was a fun surprise and very tender. It’s not your typical squid and is something you should try if you aren’t ever adventurous because you’ll like it and feel proud. I absolutely loved this place. It’s true I drank the Kool-Aid, or in this case mezcal and margaritas. I can’t wait to go back for brunch and try the Slow Poached Eggs with Toasted Challah and Green Chorizo Gravy or the Mezcal Cured Ocean Trout with Cream Cheese, Roe and Sal e Gusanos. Empellón Cocina is killing it. Get it girl…

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