Daily, 24 hours
L at Eighth Ave.; 1, 2, 3 at 14th St.; F, M at 14th St.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Charles St. to 21st St., Park Ave. to 11th Ave.
At both of his Yerba Buena locations and at Toloache, Julio Medina has asserted his prowess with refined Latin American cooking. This casual, diner-style take (with a few eclectic touches thrown in) proves less successful. The setting is cozy and fun, with a long soda-fountain marble counter, booth seating, and checkerboard floors; however, the menu fails to make the same positive impression. Empanadas are crisply fried, with straightforward but unmemorable beef or cheese fillings. Fish tacos are messy yet tasty, with chunks of white fish encased in floppy corn tortillas. Lomo saltado, a heaping mess of fries, short ribs, tomatoes, and onions in a barely discernible ginger-sambal sauce brings to mind a South American poutine. Prices are reasonable (for New York) and the place is open 24 hours, so it’s by no means a bust. Still, Medina would be wise to keep the diner setting just as is and pare down his sprawling menu to a lineup of truly solid dishes.
Empanadas, $2.25; fish tacos, $9.95