Tuesday, February 10, 2015

La Loteria: A New Modern Mexican Eatery Takes Over The West Village!

By: Anne M. Raso

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the wonderful grand opening party for La Loteria as well as eat there as a “civilian” and as a food blogger. There are Modern Mexican eateries popping up all over the city like sidewalk cracks, but La Loteria is exceptional. They use local produce (with the exception of their avocados which come from Mexico) and prime meats and co-owner cousins/executive chefs Julieta Ballesteros and Jaime Herrera aren’t afraid to climb out on a limb and create interesting fusion dishes.

Julieta also owns Crema, and so she has applied her skills from running that heralded eating spot to La Loteria, which is the Spanish term for a popular type of Mexican bingo. But her chances are great that this restaurant that has only been open two or three months will be the “winner” with food critics and just plain ol’ foodies alike. Some of the wonderful dishes I sampled include the simple but amazing trio of salsa that come along with warm salty tortillas known as Salsas Del Valiente on the menu ($9). I adored all three—the roasted chile de arbol, salsa verde cruda and de cachuate (peanut) enchilado. The inside story is that the cachuate almost got taken off the menu because it is really stretching Mexican cuisine into Thai cuisine, but it is a knockout that the regulars come back for every time. It’s not overly sweet. The salsa verde cruda is rich with cilantro flavor (thus my favorite) and the roasted chile de arbol has an “after burn” that is enough to clear your sinuses.
Ceviche made with snapper
You just know that I just also had to have their already-famous guacamole aka Guacamole Tradicional ($13) that is served in the classic Mexican stone mortar and pestle bowl and also comes with hot chips. It tastes so fresh that you will swear that they have an avocado tree in the kitchen or backyard somewhere and the portion size is more than enough for two bowls of chips or four diners really “going to town.” The Ceviche de Pescado ($14) is made with the catch of the day, and in my case, it was red snapper. It is prepared simply with chunks of papaya, onions and tomatoes, and a big spritz of lime juice. The micro greens placed on top are just the right touch.
Then it was time to sample the two empanadas that are getting so much attention due to their unusual and super-fresh fillings: De Flor De Calabaza Y Huitlacoche (which is filled with devil corn, a squash blossom, yellow pepper, Chihuahua cheese and cotija cheese) and De Papa Con Chorizo (which is filled with spicy potatoes, Mexican chorizo, cream, pasilla sauce and rotija cheese). These items are $ 18 and $14, respectively and very filling. The waiter also put a Tuna Tostada—also known as Tostaditas Di Atun ($14)—out for us to sample and the tuna was outrageously fresh and chile-rubbed. The rest of the filling was made up of guac, sesame oil, chipotle aioli and mango salsa.
We all shared La Loteria’s much praised duck dish, Flautitas De Pato En Trilogia De Salsas ($16)—and if you like duck, this will be a fantasy dish for you! Shredded duck confit is layered with corn and caramelized onion inside a homemade corn tortilla and served with three sauces. All three are knockouts—avocado-tomatillo, mole poblano and chipotle aioli. For dessert I shared both the Churros (filled with caramel cream and served with sides of both hot caramel and chocolate) and the Guava Pie (really a layered pastry with a bottom crust of mild crushed nuts, fresh whipped cream and guava jelly) which my two dining partners, Gail and Cindi. Both were exceptional and were reasonably priced at $9 each. I have never had filled churros before and to have a caramel flavored cream was especially remarkable. The Guava Pie actually looked like a fancy French pastry and was remarkably fresh-tasting in an (obviously) tropical way. I will definitely head back just for these two stunning sweets! There is also a traditional flan offered most nights I would love to check out someday.

Also, I took note that they have plenty of gluten free items and unlike most Mexican eateries, have more than seven items that will help you stick to your New Year’s diet (including the lovely ceviche). La Loteria has very much earned the 4 ½ star rating it has posted on Yelp!

La Loteria
29 Seventh Avenue South
New York, NY 10014
Phone 212-858-9096
Cuisine: Modern Mexican

La Loteria on Urbanspoon

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