6 at 33rd St.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
30th St. to 38th St., East End Ave. to Park Ave.
El Parador’s Mexico is gracious, Old-World, and restrained, with décor to match, like a tiled bar with arched recesses, whitewashed walls, and snug booths for cozy, intimate meals. Lighting is dim, with patterns thrown onto the ceiling by perforated rustic metal lanterns. A well-chosen soundtrack gives the place an Acapulco-circa-1959 feel—the year El Parador opened. The character of the cooking is evident from the first salsa-dunked chip; the latter, served warm, has a welcome gravelly texture; the former, a spicy puree with unexpected cinnamon tones. An ancient lava-stone molcajete—mortar and pestle—is used to prepare the unctuous, chunky guacamole. Typical plates like quesadillas and enchiladas satisfy, as do daily specials. Bouillabaisse Veracruzana looks like a Flemish still life, with lobster nestled among other shellfish in a vermilion-hued, charred-tomato broth. The complex sauce on the chicken mole leads with the chocolate and chilies among its two dozen ingredients, served from a weathered cast-iron pot that keeps the balance of the meat stewing as you dine. A wine list heavy on Spanish vintages tempts— as does the encyclopedic selection of tequilas.Extra
A subterranean lounge with red stucco walls accommodates private parties of up to 40 people.Recommended Dishes
Guacamole, $9; shrimp quesadilla, $14; mole poblano, $23; bouillabaisse Veracruzana, $27