One of the many things I love about New York is that you don't have to go far to find exquisite foreign food. The world is literally in your back yard, along with tasty eats and treats from all corners of the globe.
So when my cousin Erin invited me to dinner yesterday after work, and gave me the options of burgers (Italian or Mexican) I wasn't sure what I wanted. Well, I take that back. I knew I didn't want a burger; I try not to eat too much red meat and I've had about five burgers since I arrived in the city, which was about three weeks ago. No bueno.
Thus it was a tie between Italian and Mexican. Both cuisines are some of my favorites, so you can imagine my dilemma. However, Time Inc. did me a great service yesterday when they served lobster ravioli for lunch! Which was quite tasty. I added broccoli rabe and cherry tomatoes to mine with a mix of marinara and saffron sauce. Superb.
With my stomach full of Italian already, I knew the right thing to do was to choose Mexican. Erin informed me that she knew of an excellent place on the corner of 54th and ninth called El Centro.
If you've been searching for the tastiest Mexican spot here in the city, look no further! I've found it for you. I used to think my favorite Mexican place was Cafe Habana, somewhat close to SoHo, but El Centro takes the cake. Hands down! (Even though Cafe Habana still has the best corn I've ever tasted in my life).
El Centro is a cute little restaurant with outdoor and indoor seating. We decided to sit inside. It was pretty hot yesterday. Their decor is really funky and colorful. They have Corona bottles serving as chandeliers and interesting wall decorations. I can't quite describe what they are.
They give each table complimentary chips and salsa, and when I tell you this salsa is to die for... I'm not exaggerating. It's the perfect blend of tomatoes, spices and citrus. It's completely fresh. We ate every bite. Their margaritas are on my top 3 list too. I ordered a mango strawberry, and they blended the fruit and alcohol perfectly. Get it frozen! Margaritas always taste better frozen, especially on a hot summer evening after work.
For our main course we both ordered the trio de tacos. I highly suggest it if you're a fan of tacos. It's almost like a combination plate for tacos; you can choose three of whichever tacos they have. I chose the braised short rib, steak and shrimp tacos. Muy Delicioso!
Each come with their own set of toppings. I usually am a boring Barbara when it comes to tacos: I get the usual cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. I highly suggest that you stick with the toppings that come on each taco. Unless, of course, you are allergic to something. I feel like the chef designed each taco to come with certain dressings, which bring out the extensive combination of flavors more.
So if you have some time for lunch, or are looking for an interesting place to go on a date or just want to hang out and have a good time with some friends in the city, make sure you stop by El Centro and check it out!
Written by Morgan Grain, Florida A&M University, InStyle Magazine
Edited by Andrea Baumgartner, University of Illinois, Good Housekeeping