Sun-Thu, 11am-midnight; Fri-Sat, 11am-12:30am
L at First Ave.; F at Second Ave.; 6 at Astor Pl.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Houston St. to 20th St., Ave. C to Broadway
New York's an international foodie's gold mine—save for decent, authentic Tex-Mex. Most of the city's Mexican-American eateries don't even approach what can be found on every other corner in cities like Dallas and Austin, where tamales and taquitos are as ubiquitous as our bagels and pizza by the slice. Paquitos in the East Village is one welcome exception; they've got the goods to stave off a hungry Texan's homesick yearnings. Lively Ranchera music warms a dusk-orange dining room, whose barebones trimmings are enlivened by Day of the Dead oil paintings. A competent Tex-Mex menu focuses squarely on the traditional—quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and fajitas—with few surprises. Bland tortilla chips and flat salsa are inauspicious, but many entrees have bang: Charbroiled strips of beef lend strong, smoky heft to soft tacos double-wrapped in fresh corn tortillas; cheese-smothered chicken enchiladas plays a sweet mole against the brighter flavors of fresh tomatillo sauce; and spicy jalapeños, green peppers, and onions give the grilled fajitas picantes plenty of punch. A meal here may not merit a letter home to San Antone, but Paquitos' take on Tex-Mex is a Texas two-step in the right direction.Recommended Dishes
Real tacos Mexican style, $3.26 each; spinach enchilada, $8.66; enchilada con pollo and mole, $8.17