Food & Drink,  Featured

The Best Mexican Restaurants on the Upper West Side

People find Mexican restaurants appealing for several reasons. The vibrant atmosphere, authentic and diverse food options, and the rich history and cultural significance of Mexican cuisine are major attractions.  Additionally, Mexican food is often more affordable than other cuisines, offering a plethora of options to suit everyone’s taste and budget.  Whether you want to celebrate an occasion or are just looking for a casual meal Mexican cuisine offers something for everyone to enjoy.

Viva Mexico!!

Cilantro – 485 Columbus Avenue (between W. 83rd & 84th Streets) 212.712.9090

Start with either a large or medium margarita and pair it up with one of my favorites, their chicken quesadillas. Their menu provides an array of authentic Mexican and Southwestern American dishes. Some of their most popular dishes are the fajitas, enchiladas and taco salad. The kitchen is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Covacha – 368 Columbus Avenue (between W. 77th & 78th Streets) 212.712.2929

They are proudly featured as one of the Best Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand Spots Under $50 in Uptown New York City. Their menu is a tribute to the food of the western Mexican “Ranchos”. Regulars recommend their Ceviche, Tres Leches and Chicken Enchiladas. Part of the family of outstanding UWS Mexican restaurants, El Mitote and and the former Cafe Frida.

Frozen or on the Rocks? Be sure to stop by for on their daily Happy Hours – Monday – Friday 4-7 p.m. and Sunday 4-7 p.m.

El Fish Marisqueria – 155 Amsterdam Avenue (corner of W. 67th Street) 212.874.2000

Unlike the other Mexican restaurants on our list, El Fish focuses on bringing Mexican inspired seafood to the Upper West Side. Some of the more interesting dishes are their Brochetas De Salmon, Lobster Tacos and one of my favorites, their Mini Tuna Tacos. More of an upscale vibe than you would expect to find at a Mexican restaurant. Their hours change depending on the day so check their website before venturing over to their Amsterdam location.

El Mitote – 208 Columbus Avenue (between W. 69th & 70th Streets)

This long time neighborhood restaurant has been a staple since they first opened their doors in 1992. Infactuation named them as one of Their Top Favorite Restaurants on the UWS. They look to bring Guadalajara street food to the UWS. Street foods are prepared on the streets of Mexico and are called “little cravings” because they are typically foods not eaten at a formal meal. This would include such favorites such as Tacos, Tortas, Gorditas and Tostadas to name a few. Be such to stop by and expect to have a good time.

Nina’s Great Burrito Bar – 522 Columbus Avenue (between W. 85th & 86th Street)

Nina’s Great Burrito Bar is located on the Upper West Side of New York City. Founded by Adelina “Nina” Guzman, a Mexican immigrant with a passion for authentic cuisine, the restaurant has been serving up dishes since 1994. Growing up in a small town in Guerrero, Mexico, she began working at a young age to support her family. Her love for cooking and her family’s recipes led her to open her own restaurant on the UWS.

If you want to stick with their most popular dishes than order up either the enchiladas, birria tacos or the grilled chicken burrito. What ever you choose I’m sure you will enjoy.

Noche Mexicana – 842 Amsterdam Avenue (between W. 101st & 102nd Streets)

If you are craving for some good Mexican food, not some Tex-Mex wannabee restaurant then you have found the right spot. The family-owned establishment has been a neighborhood staple for years. They offer a diverse array of traditional Mexican dishes: including chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, and an assortment of tacos and enchiladas. Reasonably priced for a UWS restaurant makes it an affordable option for families without breaking the bank. Popular dishes include their huevos rancheros, spicy chicken, and soft tacos. Open daily from 10:30 – 10:30 p.m.

Playa Betty’s – 320 Amsterdam Avenue (between W. 75th & 76th Streets)

This casual eatery offers a unique twist on traditional Mexican cuisine, drawing inspiration from the diverse flavors and culinary influences usually found along the California coast.

Californian-Mexican Fusion

The menu at Playa Betty’s features a fusion of Mexican and Californian flavors, with dishes like the Cali-Style Club Sandwich, California Salad, and the signature Hang 10 Burrito.  Check out their Bottomless Brunch every Saturday and Sunday.

At Playa Betty’s you feel like you are entering a beach oasis, complete with palm trees, surfboards, and holiday lights adorning the walls.  Expect a laid-back and welcoming environment.

A standout feature of Playa Betty’s is its affordability for those seeking a casual and budget-friendly dining experience.  Happy Hour every Wednesday through Monday from 4-7 p.m. where you can select from beer, wine, margaritas, sangria, and select cocktails.

Rancho Tequileria – 718 Amsterdam Avenue (between W. 94th & 95th Streets)

Step right into one of the best Mexican cuisines in New York City. Beyond their authentic Mexican menu you will be served with a professional staff who seems to enjoy their customers (you’ll find Brian tending the bar on most nights). Happy is a major daily activity at the bar so get their early – Daily 4-7 p.m (bar only) and 10 p.m. to closing Friday & Saturday (including tables). My favorite Happy Hour treat is their chicken nachos. Some of the most enjoyed dishes on the menu is their Classic Guacamole, Rancho Burritos and Rancho Fajitas. You might like to try this specialty drink (frozen margarita along with a splash of sangria. Taste great!

Rosa Mexicano – 61 Columbus Avenue (between W. 62nd & 63rd Streets)

 Conveniently situated directly across from the Lincoln Center, this restaurant offers a perfect spot for pre-theater dining or post-show cocktails.  Renowned for its signature frozen pomegranate margaritas and tableside guacamole, Rosa Mexicano serves a fresh take on Mexican classics as well as some reimagined dishes. The menu features options like chile rellenos, Camarones al mojo de ajo, pork carnitas, and sizzling Parrillada mixed grills to share. 

Santa Fe – 73 W. 71st Street (between Columbus Ave. & Central Park West)

If longevity is any indication of a restaurant’s quality, then I suggest a visit to Santa Fe Restaurant. , Located on W. 71st Street just off Columbus Avenue this eatery has been a neighborhood staple for nearly 40 years. The restaurant offers a fusion of Mexican and Southwestern cuisine, featuring classic dishes as well as contemporary Mexican selections. Some of their most ordered dishes are the Heuvos Rancheros, Chimichangas, and Chipotle Chicken.  Santa Fe is particularly known for serving “New York’s Best Frozen Margarita”, as recognized by New York Magazine. 

Tacombi – 377 Amsterdam Ave. (between W. 78th & 79th Streets)

Casual, no-frills restaurant.  Tacombi looks to focus on sharing an authentic taco culture with its customers. The menu presents a broad array of tacos and quesadilla dishes. Try some of their most ordered dishes like Baja Crispy Fish Taco, Sinaloa Shrimp Taco, and Al Pastor Quesadilla. Stop in for Happy Hour Monday – Friday from 4-7 p.m. Also, you can join their Taco Taco Club (Automatic membership) where you can get Buy 1 Taco, Get 1 Taco every Tuesday, every week.

The Calaveras – 949 Columbus Avenue (between W. 106th & 107th Streets)

Located in the space previously occupied by the Fat Monk. A small intimate dining space with seating for around 40 people. There is a small bar area and a few tables outside for seasonal al fresco dining.

Some of their popular dishes include:

  • Tacos al pastor – marinated pork, pineapple, onion, cilantro
  • Enchiladas suizas – chicken enchiladas in green tomatillo sauce
  • Mole poblano – chicken in a rich, complex mole sauce
  • Fajitas – choice of steak, chicken, or shrimp with peppers and onions

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