Crema does what one chowhound calls “highfalutin Mexican”—a red flag for many—but pulls it off with aplomb. “This place doesn’t seem to get much buzz here, and I’m not sure why,” says josephsm, who loves its grilled rib eye in pipian rojo (pumpkin seed-red chile mole) and perfectly spiced pork ribs broiled in sweet-sour salsa.

Other winners from chef Julieta Ballesteros (who first got hounds’ attention at Mexicana Mama in the Village): Chilean sea bass (broiled in achiote paste, served on plantain puree with pineapple escabeche) and tostados en callo de hacha (corn mini-tortillas topped with scallop, avocado, mango salsa, and chipotle aioli).

It’s not cheap—entrees run $17 to $26 at dinner—but portions are large. Margaritas come in novel passion fruit and tamarind varieties—tasty but pricey at $12. Service is friendly and professional, the room colorful and inviting.

Dissenters complain about the prices, and some think Ballesteros’ sweet-savory combinations err on the sweet side.

Crema [Chelsea]
formerly Sandia
111 W 17th St., between 6th and 7th aves, Manhattan

Board Links: Crema (17th btwn 6 and 7Ave)

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