We found ourselves in the West Village last night and stopped in at the first place that looked interesting when our legs and energy gave out, which turned out to be MI CUCINA on upper Hudson Street. It looked new but we're told it had been there for years, but recently made over, going from neighborhood place to looking more sleek and trendy.
The menu is fairly high-end Mexican, with most appetizers at $8 and most entrees and specials at $18. No chips-and-salsa at the tables. The guacamole appetizer was among the best I've ever had and of a generous size (three people could easily share it, although you might want to ask for more chips), and I suspect it was freshly prepared to order, as it was not overly chilled like some restaurants' guac, and it arrived a vivid light green at our table but darkened a little bit as we ate it. There's a lounge area off the restaurant's entrance where you could come in to enjoy drinks and small plates, and I'll definitely stop in again just for the guacamole.
I ordered the small meat pies, which were among the best I've had, but seemed rather expensive for two rather small pies at $8.
The specials menu had some interesting choices, like a crab and corn stuffed chile relleno. My companion opted for one of the specials, a huge braised lamb shank, very savory, with a spiced sauce, served with white hominy and sauteed spinach. I opted for one of those baseline dishes I use to judge the comparable quality of specific types of restaurants (such as how good the pastrami or matzoh ball soup is at a deli), chicken enchiladas mole'. It turned out to be a superb rendition of that dish, probably the best I've had since that little family-run place on 14th St near Ave A closed. The mole' was a little more bitter and a little more spicy than most places', and the shredded chicken was well-cleaned and actually tasted like chicken. It was properly garnished with sesame seeds and raw onion. Three good-sized enchiladas were served with some mellow spanish rice.
We shared a flan which was very good if less light than we expected, probably made with heavy cream instead of just milk. Two courses and one beer each, and shared dessert, came to $90 with tax and tip.
The hospitality and service given us was excellent, especially since we were not dressed up or had a reservation. We only had beers (about 5 Mexican beers to choose from) but from the sound of the other patrons, their margaritas must be pretty potent. That was actually our only complaint, the front dining room gets very loud, next time we'll go back early or late, off peak from Saturday night at 10:00.
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