The congenial, busy owners of this Mexican joint make their own fresh masa (corn dough) from grain soaked and ground on-site. This means tacos of spicy skate that’s been tucked into ethereal corn blankets for you, and for the kids—if the timing is right (try late morning or early afternoon)—the spectacle of a bright green machine spewing out tortillas. Once the show’s over, grab a table and share a mound of guac and chips, delicate mole-bathed chicken enchiladas or fluffy, well-spiced tamales.
You won’t need Spanish skills to gobble down $2.50 carnitas (pork seasoned with garlic, thyme and oregano) and garlicky, lime-marinated beef tacos at this tiny, fast-paced Mexican bodega. The two-layer tacos are easy for little ones to handle, as are the sopes (thick cornmeal tortillas) topped with cheese, beans and whatever meat you fancy. Work your way to the back of the store to find a handful of stools to eat at or, if weather permits, enjoy your feast at the Hell’s Kitchen Playground right across the street.
Gray-pocked guacamole, less-than-sizzling fajitas, watery frozen margaritas—for decades, that was the sad state of South of the Border eats in New York. But this low-lit, monochrome East Village cantina, from Ofrenda amigos Jorge Guzman and Mario Hernandez, busts out of the tortilla-wrapped norm, spotlighting tribal delicacies like grasshoppers, worms and, yes, the namesake ant. Hailing from the Dominican Republic and Cuernavaca, Mexico, respectively, the pair sources those creepy crawlers and the modern Mayan decor straight from their home states—there’s not a dollar-store sombrero in sight.