At New York’s Amigo By Nai, Tacos Rise Way Above Street Food

Tacos are but a canvas for Chef Ruben Rodriguez’s tantalizing and inventive cooking at Amigo…

At New York’s Amigo By Nai, Tacos Rise Way Above Street Food

Food stuff writers labor mightily to occur up with new methods to explain a dish’s flavor and attempt difficult not to in excess of use the apparent words and phrases, like “delectable,” the archaic “toothsome” and the golly-gee phrases like “yummy.” But I’m likely to explain the food stuff at the new Amigo Nai in the way I very best believe that it attests to its good quality: “deeply scrumptious,” with the emphasis on the “deeply.”

Executive Chef-Owner Rubén Rodriguez and Nai Cafe Team, which have the estimable Nai tapas restaurant close by, opened last October as a counter-and-acquire-out taqueria but now it is a little, comprehensive-fledged restaurante with 35 seats in the dining space, 12 at the bar and 24 outside. Tacos do certainly underpin every single dish in colorful shows, but there is rarely any you would come across on one particular menu at a cafe in Mexico City—you would have to ferret them out in a dozen taquerias there or any where else in Mexico, where by regionalism regulations. The closest delicacies I know to Rodriguez’s is maybe that of the late Patricia Quintana, who generally fought the stereotypes of Mexican cookery both in her cookbooks like Mexico’s Feasts of Life (1989) and her groundbreaking restaurant Izote, as properly as Silvana Salcido Esparza’s taqueria like Barrio Café in Phoenix, Arizona. 

 Each night Amigo by Nai features 18 varieties of tacos, some as appetizers, but nothing on the menu charges much more than $18, and that’s for a terrific, impeccably chopped 45-day aged Primary ribeye tartare, Nixtamal tortilla, Pedro Jiménez Sherry, cilantro and lemon.  

 The little, vibrant dining room inside of is minimally done up like a set from the Jetsons, albeit with polished Italian terrazzo bar. When I frequented final 7 days I ate at a desk exterior, and the parade of persons sashaying down Second Avenue was a interesting present of Decrease East Side variety and avenue style. On hand to immediate anything with his unceasingly affable disposition is common manager Raul Oléaga, formerly Director of Functions at ViCool by Michelin-starred Madrileño chef Sergi Arola..

There’s a excellent wine record at Amigo Nai but anyone begins with a person of Beverage Director Niko Hagerty’s one of a kind cocktail creations, like his “What Occurred to 8th Street” built with wasabi-infused Dewars White Label Scotch, sea salt, sesame seaweed, environmentally friendly chartreuse, matcha, coconut, and Aztec chocolate, alongside with a very first-fee margarita. Hagerty, by the way,  also takes place to a flamenco dancer at Nai. 

It is difficult to uncover any lapses on Rodriguez’s menu, for there’s a large amount heading on atop these basic tacos, which are themselves nicely-wrought, as with maciza bone-in pork butt with belly meat, onion and a total jalapeño that you squeeze to exude the juice of the pepper ($6, but accessible by the pound for $30), or his complex taco of pork tummy, and a citrus gastrique that cuts the excess fat and red salsa brava ($7).  Exceptionally great, creamy, sweet and savory is the maiz gratinado of grated corn, queso fresco, manchego cheese, cilantro and a pop of Serrano pepper ($12). For anything specifically refreshing in this very hot weather, attempt the citrus salad of  mango, orange, pistachio, onion and a sprightly Thai chili spicing with lime ($14).

A crisp, heat empanada is abundantly stuffed with juicy shredded beef, sweet raisins, potato and olives ($12), while a churrasco on a skewer is heavy with garlic, dashed with chimichurri and that squirt of lime that locate its way out to just about every dish ($14).  Shrimp also will take on a deeply enjoyable garlic sauce with an aïoli and crimson cabbage ($8), and a superbly battered, extremely crisp tempura of cod arrives with chipotle mayonnaise, Thai basil and purple cabbage ($6). Rabo (oxtail) is completed with a wealthy crimson mojo, shishito red peppers and a very clear consommé on the side that you could get pleasure from all on its personal ($8).

For dessert Rodriguez does inverse churros, these piping scorching fritters that in Spain you dip into thick warm chocolate below he puts Nutella-like chocolate  with hazelnuts within the churroso when you chunk into it the hot chocolate flows over your tongue ($10). A vintage Spanish flan ($7) built with sweetened condensed milk and uncooked flake coconut is a light-weight option to ice cream.

Rodriguez has more irons in the corporation fireplace with far more eateries in intellect soon, which proves but all over again that not even Covid can hold a accurate entrepreneur at bay for lengthy. I could quickly see Amigo Nais all more than the metropolis. The closer to me, the much better. 

AMIGO BY NAI

29 Second  Avenue 

212-933-4487

Open up daily from 11:30am–10:00pm.