Mon-Fri, 4pm-11pm; Sat-Sun, 11am-11pm
L at First Ave.; 6 at 23rd St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
14th St. to 23rd St., Ave. C to Lexington Ave.
With the ongoing influx of Mexican kitchen workers to the city, cantina eats have quickly evolved from the dispiriting combination platters of yore to a new wave of tasty, honest-to-the-homeland cucinas, like ¡Vamos! Half of its appealingly spare red-and-white interior is given over to a busy central bar commandeered by youngish locals. Dining and bar tables surround the margarita mania; in warm weather, the front wall folds open to reveal a row of sidewalk tables, sheltered from First Avenue’s din by Stuyvesant Town's entrance road. The menu leans toward cocktail-friendly small plates, like chunky guacamole with just-right doses of lime and chili, and a fresh and tangy ceviche. Tacos could use a little more heat; pepperheads find an ample supply in grilled serranos, chopped habañeros and jalapeños, and a wicked habañero aioli. No chili is required for the baked-bread pudding. It’s hardly Mexican, but majorly bueno. ¡Vamos! may not yield a south-of-the-border epiphany, but the well-made food is satisfying enough to propose, “Vamos here again.”Recommended Dishes
Guacamole, $10; camarones tacos, $9 and $17