By  on August 27, 2007

While East Side Mexican food lovers in New York have chic taquerias like La Esquina, West Siders have long known the only recourse for their late-night cravings is the 14th Street taco truck. But starting today, there's an alternative that goes a bit better with teetering Balenciaga sandals and a flowy frock: Los Dados, a new eatery that has taken over the onetime lounge spot Meet, on the corner of Gansevoort and Washington Streets.

The renovated 1,650-square-foot restaurant — whose name means "The Dice" — is the latest brainchild from David Rabin and Will Regan (their club The Double Seven will reopen down the street in the former Rhone space in mid-fall).

"Will and I have always wanted to do a Mexican restaurant," says Rabin, pointing out the Meatpacking District has a glut of Japanese and Mediterranean offerings, but nothing generating food from further south. "We must have looked at 10 spaces over 15 years, but none of them worked. When this came up, we literally sprinted over."

The deal thus sealed, they brought on chef Sue Torres of Sueños, who is keen to bring Mexican home cooking to New York. She travels extensively in Mexico, visiting her cooks' families at least once a year. The influences of such trips are evident even in the restaurant's stand-alone taqueria, which "will be like eye candy," Torres promises — serving piles of mangoes, grilled corn on the cob, tortas, chalupas, tacos and fruit cups. There will even be a woman in the window making fresh tortillas (here's hoping she's patient).

As for the bar, "I'm a tequila lover," says Torres, who points to the vanilla bean-infused variety, as well as a margarita dusted with chile powder and salt.

Meanwhile, in the main restaurant, which will also have outdoor seating for 50, Torres will serve up lighter fare like salads, alongside the more typical enchiladas. Starting in September, they will also offer weekend brunch and Rabin already claims his favorite: migas, a sort of scrambled eggs with red sauce and chorizo.

He should fuel up, as he and his partners have their hands full. Besides the reincarnated Double Seven (which will retain the same Dodd Mitchell-styled look: "We kept all the furniture," laughs Rabin), coming soon is a new Los Angeles outpost.Los Dados, 73 Gansevoort Street, New York, 646-810-7290. Hours: Lunch, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; Dinner (Sunday-Thursday), 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m., (Friday-Saturday), 5:30 p.m.-12 a.m.; Taqueria: 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.

ON THE MENU
- Mezcal-cured salmon carpaccio with farmer's market greens and guajillo (chili pepper) toasts

- Tacos: "Al Pastor" (roast pork, charred jalapeño-pineapple salsa); "De Mariscos" (pequin chile and lime leaf poached seafood); or "De Barbocoa" (barbecued lamb, pickled serrano pepper, shredded lettuce, radish)

- Tamarind-glazed skirt steak and Nopales en Escabeche (fish in an acidic marinade on cactus-like leaves) with pasilla chile

- Skate Veracruzana with white bean puree and corn tortillas

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