Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mexico Lindo

I was once told by a veteran NYC restaurant owner that it takes 7 years from opening day to declare a restaurant a success. Based on the constant fluctuations in the New York restaurant scene, that feels like the equivalent of at least 25 human years! And so, in discovering a single Mexican restaurant that has been around since 1972, I knew I had happened upon something special. Mexico Lindo is one of the most unassuming spots in the city - a unique quality for a Mexican restaurant. But, it's the warm mentality generated by this family run business that has kept this restaurant on solid grounds. Well, that, its authentic cuisine, and its amazingly fresh Margaritas.

Located in an area that some would call Gramercy and others would call Murray Hill, Mexico Lindo isn't concerned with its location. And they shouldn't be as it is approaching landmark status with its 40th birthday just around the corner! This spot is truly old school - both in the neighborhood and cultural sense. Mexican restaurants in New York have become quite a scene, with restaurants too often and easily abandoning their sense of authenticity in an attempt to attract flashier crowds. For a night on the town, this can be appealing. But most of the time, it's the laid back places like Mexico Lindo that you need and should crave - the places that will truly invite you in and take care of you.

The menu follows a traditional Mexican format - offering everything from appetizers, soups, and salads to meat, fish, and chicken to fajitas, burritos, and tacos. But, before you place your meal order, I encourage you to settle in with a Margarita or two. With such an impressive tenure, it's not too surprising that they serve some of the freshest Margaritas in town. It is just surprising that more people have not discovered them. Mexico Lindo makes them with just the right balance of top shelf Mexican tequila, cointreau, fresh lime juice, and agave nectar - and done so at a reasonable price. These certainly do not suffer from the artificial sweeteners that most of the top Mexican restaurants so regularly and comfortably dish out.

Once you have settled in with a few drinks, fresh salsa and chips, I recommend starting with one of their salads - a lighter option since Mexican food tends to fill me up pretty fast. The ingredients are as fresh as the drinks and it's another great excuse to indulge in a whole avocado, simply without the chips. The Especial salad is made up of iceburg, mesclun, tomato, avocado, cucumber, onion, and peppers. For the main courses, I find it hard not to indulge in one of their tacos - these are delicious and, surprisingly, not too heavy. Depending on your mood, I recommend choosing between the pan seared market fish or the grilled steak tacos. Both are served with pan-seared market fish, jalapeno pico de gallo, avocado-tomatillo salsa and fresh limes. I know I've said it several times, but I'll say it again - everything is just fresh, fresh, fresh! If you are not in the mood for a dish with tortillas, there are many excellent meat and fish selections. The Chuletas a la Parilla, grilled marinated pork chops with morro rice and sweet plantains, is full of flavor. And, if you don't get a chance to try this dish, ordering up a side of plantains is a must - the sweet ones are particularly tasty.

While Mexico Lindo will probably not be making the major headlines any time soon, it's doing more than fine. And this is certainly not due to lack of excellence in the kitchen, bar or setting. Some places just prefer to remain as unassuming as possible. And, if you can pull that off while outlasting most restaurants in such a grueling culinary city, why not? At 38 years old, there is certainly nothing left to prove.

Mexico Lindo
459 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 679-3665
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):


Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

I will have to try this place - I'll make it an excuse to leave the WV and venture to another hood. And I am with you on the margaritas...even though they treated me poorly Friday night after pitchers at Brooklyn Bowl... Have you eaten there? Let's pick a place for our foodie date! I still owe you my dates - I'm so sorry - work got CRAZY on me!

Anonymous said...

Muy bueno para el hombre gordo! (I don't know how to make the upside down exclamation mark on this computer.)