A, C, E at 14th St.; L at Eighth Ave.
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This venue is closed.
Happy-hour hounds have long appreciated this funky, cheap, basement-level Mexican joint—and for good reason. El Rey’s margaritas, made with fresh-squeezed watermelon, cantaloupe, and grapefruit juices, pack a mighty wallop and come in economy-sized pitchers for easy sharing. In good weather, the best place to enjoy them is on the spacious back patio, where a dozen or so tables are surrounded by trees and festively strung Christmas lights. The crowds can get thick—and roaringly drunk—so it’s a good idea to come early and eat something to help you go the distance. The menu of Mexican comfort-food dishes seems custom-designed to absorb alcohol: Crispy tacos are heaped with savory ground beef, manchego cheese, and fresh pico de gallo; burros (no diminutive burritos here) are the size of small logs; chicken mole enchiladas are wrapped in lightly charred corn tortillas then drenched in a sweet-spicy sauce. In winter, a more subdued scene occupies the low-ceilinged dining room—which is crammed so full of tinsel, flashing colored lights, faux-Mayan artifacts and Day of the Dead marionettes that it looks like a piñata exploded.
Picnics with a view, roller-skating nostalgia, and a party for gay headbangers.