In a dark room on a busy corner of the West Village, Alex Stupak has managed to convince a wide swath of New Yorkers that Mexican food can be elegant and inspired through his unusual dishes. The bar scene, however, makes it clear that people are more stubborn when it comes to drinks. Their loss: Natalie Tapken has put together an excellent wine list. Although the guacamole—a refreshingly un-fussed with bowl of mashed avocado with small bowls of arbol and smoked cashew salsa alongside—does provide an excellent counterpoint to the bite of El Burro, a Tequila drink spiked with ginger beer and chipotle, it’s also a fantastic foil for Ariania Occhipinti’s SP68, an earthy, smooth albanello-zibibbo blend from Sicily. When it comes to tacos, combinations like hedgehog mushrooms with tomatillo-chipotle salsa, sweetbreads with roasted maitakes or braised tongue with potatoes surely deserve more than beer; a split of Lallier Champagne is more like it, or maybe Pibaron’;s Bandol Rosé. For the “queso fundido” or plump sopes with smoked plantains, choose between chardonnay made in Red Hook, Brooklyn or Puligny-Montrachet; lamb barbacoa needs Foradori’s teroldego, or Paul Achs Langer Acker Zweigelt from Austria’s Burgenland. And there’s always R. López de Heredía’s Gran Reserva 1991. Drink it now, while everyone’s still distracted by the cocktails.
230 W. 4th St., New York, NY
This story appears in the print issue of April 2012.
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