Sun-Thu, 11:30am-11pm; Fri-Sat, 11:30am-midnight
1 at 116th St.-Columbia University
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
Calle Ocho’s Alex Garcia serves a menu of flavorful short-rib burritos, pork carnitas tacos, quesadillas, fresh guacamole, and happy-hour margaritas at Amigos, his Morningside Heights spot that’s a notch less classy than its older sibling—but in a good way. The upbeat casual restaurant is a haven for large groups that even boasts colorful décor and festive music. For those who like some heat, start off with the spicy guacamole, which is dotted with pomegranate seeds, mangoes, and jalapeños. The pork carnitas tacos are well seasoned and succulent, and the chicken enchilada is also a solid dish. Red-and-green-colored lights hang from the ceilings, cartoon-esque Día de Los Muertos skeletons grace the walls, and bottles of Jarritos are stacked near the kitchen. Crayons and a blank sheet of paper are on each table, to entertain both children and adults throughout the meal. The price point runs higher than other Mexican locales in the area, but its nightly drink specials, lengthy menu options, and high-energy vibe make the bustling spot right next to Columbia University worth a visit. If the burritos haven’t left you feeling full, top off the meal with churros, Mexican hot chocolate, and some flan—or, of course, a classic margarita.