Monday, September 26, 2011

Teqa: A Hip, Young Midtown Mexican Eatery Worth Checking Out

By: Anne M. Raso

We were lucky enough to check out the "modern Mexican" Teqa  in Midtown Manhattan recently (also known as Murray Hill, a formerly bland neighborhood now on the rise in terms of hipness and young residents). It has a modern atmosphere, with fun light fixtures and open front floor-to-ceiling windows that give the diner the option of eating al fresco or coming inside. We noticed that the crowd was generally in their 20s and 30s--the type of folk who run home from work to change into something more casual before heading out to dinner. There also seemed to be a big bar scene in the back (there were as many people just having drink as sitting down to a meal).
Voodoo Chile
The restaurants' signature drink names and contents are actually embedded into the wallpaper on either side of the restaurant, interestingly enough. Cocktails are $11 and we tried two--the Voodoo Chile (Corzo Reposado, vanilla, maple syrup, pressed pineapple, fresh lemon and grated nutmeg) and the Hibiscus & Rose Margarita (hibiscus infused El Jimador Blanco, Triple Sec, fresh lime, rosewater mist and hibiscus salt) and both were potent and fruity. We would highly recommend both and you might start getting a buzz only two or three sips into your drink!
Teqa Guac
Being in a Mexican eatery, we had to of course try the restaurants popular "chips and dips"--we chose Teqa Salsas (three different color tortillas served with roasted tomato, shrimp mango and tomatillo salsa, $9) and Teqa Guacamole (guacamole done in mellow, orange habanero or in a "mega watt," i.e. superhot, style, $14). The winners on these two chips platters were the tomatillo salsa, which tasted like the tomatillos had been picked out of a local garden five minutes ago and the mellow guacamole, which seemed to have an addictive creamy quality.
Teqa Salsas
 We then decided that two platters of chips and sauce were not enough after trying the aforementioned wonderful dips, so we tried Oaxaca Queso Fundido & Salsa (a special top secret hot melted white cheese blend, $11). Diners get the option to add vegetables, beef or chorizo to the platter for $ to $6, but we wanted pure melted cheese fun and we got it. It beat the heck out of any cheese "fondue" we have ever tried. We say to skip any old-school American or French fondue and just come here to feed your hot melted cheese and chips addiction!
Mahi Mahi
Skirt Steak
Our entrees were the wonderful Pan Seared Mahi Mahi Tacos ($16) which was served with jicama mint slaw and avocado "crema," Guinness Braised Short Rib Tacos (served with grilled corn, queso fresco and Teqa sauce, $16) and Teqa Marinated Charred Skirt Steak (served with roasted poblano pepper and pico de gallo, $26). Everything was ultra fresh--the white corn "taco shells" soft and warm and the meat was so tender, you did not even need a knife to cut it. The pico de gallo on top gave the meat just the right kick and sweetness at the same time.
Braised Short Rib Tacos
For dessert, we had to try what Teqa calls "Happy Endings" on their menu. We went for the Mexican Cinnamon-Sugar Churros (listed on the menu for $9 including dark chocolate dipping sauce, but we somehow wound up with the even more wonderful hot caramel dipping sauce as well). They were served hot with lots of extra cinnamon sugar. They had a crispy "bite" and we were lucky there were only four on the plate or else we would have never stopped indulging tin them.
So we say, (Mexican) hats off to Teqa! The service was friendly, we were seated right away, the food and drinks came out promptly and we left happy--if a big wobbly from the Voodoo Chile and Hibiscus 7 Rose Margaritas. Soft drink lovers will be happy to know that the world famous Jarritos Mexican sodas are also served here.

447 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Dress: Casual/Chic Casual
Teqa on Urbanspoon

Photos: Anne M. Raso

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