NEW YORK — It seems people want their Mexican food like their fashion these days: good taste and high quality at a low cost.
Or so says Bob Giraldi, co-owner of Diablo Royale, a new Mexican restaurant in the West Village here. “People want three-star food and three-star service, but one-star prices,” he explains. The dilemma he finds in New York is that the only options are either expensive and fancy or, Chevy’s (the TGI Friday’s of Mexican) with nothing in between.
“It’s hard finding a place that serves good food and a good time without being ashamed to be either one,” Jason Hennings, Giraldi’s partner in the restaurant, adds.
To fix that, the men have opened Diablo Royale, a small roadside-saloon kind of place on West 10th Street serving fresh Mexican fare at reasonable prices. The margaritas are hand-mixed; the salsa is a subtle blend of roasted tomatoes, peppers, garlic and olive oil, and the tortilla chips are served crisp, warm and complimentary. The menu is inspired by the version of Mexican food commonly found in California — casual and uncluttered dishes made with quality meats and garnished with little more than spices, lettuce and tomatoes. “I’ve spent time on the West Coast,” Giraldi says, “and that’s where Mexican food really is because of the large Mexican population. The food tastes better there than what’s in New York.”
It’s the sort of spread one would expect from two industry veterans (Giraldi is part owner of several of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurants and owns Bread Tribeca, and Hennings helped to open Italian eatery August near Diablo). Keith Harry, formerly at Chanterelle, is in the kitchen cooking carne asada and chicken mole enchiladas.
As for the decor, it’s as unfussy as the menu: high-backed wooden chairs, antler chandeliers, exposed brick and wood beams and a couple of Mexican prayer candles for mood lighting. After all, Hennings says, “Fancy and Mexican food don’t gel. It can be great food, but if the ingredients are so simple, why pay so much for it?”