Every summer for the nearly four weeks that stretch between late July’s “Will this heat ever end?” and mid-August’s “We’re in the heat wave home stretch!” New York food-lovers and hungry tourists fill the city’s best eateries to enjoy three- and four-course meals at half their usual cost.
‘How is this possible?’ you ask. ‘What is the secret to the discounted fare?’ The answer: New York Restaurant Week, the annual food extravaganza wherein some of the city’s most exclusive and most expensive restaurants fling their doors open wide and invite diners of every stripe to a seat at the table. For a limited time, a three course prixe fixe is only $38, at every participating restaurant!
And hundreds of restaurants participate with chefs and cuisines from throughout the world represented. Among them are dozens of Latin restaurants, including perennial TLK favorites Maya, Fonda, and Empellon. Below are a few additional standouts that, if you’re on or near the island July 21 through August 15, you should definitely check out.
Swank and sexy, this restaurant lounge (right) in Chelsea’s Dream Hotel serves upscale Mexican food with a modern twist. Ceviches and tacos are signatures and the chopped salad with jalapeno ranch dressing is simultaneously comforting and cool. For dessert, do the Don Huevo, a dark chocolate molten cake ensconced in an enormous white chocolate “egg.” It’s both dessert and a show. (Waiters drizzle piping hot Negra Modelo caramel sauce over the egg to break its shell and reveal the cake beneath.) We suggest hitting this dark den with a group of gal pals for a fun, pocketbook-friendly, ladies night out.
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Seamus Mullen’s Spanish tavern in the heart of the West Village opened to rave reviews last August. Since then, it’s been one of the most coveted restaurant reservations in town and a favorite among celebs and food aficionados alike. Mullen was crowned Prince of Pork at this year’s Grand Cochon 555 in New York, and we couldn’t agree more with the win. Choose anything pork – not hard to do as it’s the menu’s mainstay – and don’t miss the squid a la plancha and anchovy tapas.
An iconic family-owned restaurant, Victor’s (left) is a must-visit for any fan of classic New York dining. (Think crisp white tablecloths, patrons in suits and skirts, and facial hair-free waiters quietly delivering dignified dishes in a decidedly grown-up space.) Opened more than 50 years ago, Victor’s serves classic Cuban cuisine with a contemporary touch. Signature plates include, black bean soup, lechon, and ropa vieja served in a garlic, tomato, onion, and pepper sauce. Visit with colleagues after a long day’s work (it’s located in Midtown directly across from Central Park) and follow up with a mojito in Victor’s Cuba Lounge, where live music by “Son de Cuba Band” takes center stage Wednesday through Saturday nights.
Socarrat, a lively Spanish tapas spot with outposts in NYC’s hottest nabes (all are participating in Restaurant Week Monday to Friday but only the Nolita site will also serve the low-cost menu on weekends as well) gets its name from the crunchy, blackened rice that forms at the bottom and along the sides of the pan when making paella. For Spaniards, it's the prize of the paella and Soccarat takes this very seriously. There are several paellas on the menu, the Langosta and bespoke Soccarat paella are faves, and more than 20 tapas, each better than the next. Duck in to Soccarat for a night of familiar, familial conversation with old friends, and don’t be afraid to put your elbows on the table. It’s that kind of place, casual, cool, and Spanish to the core.