El Parador Café

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78 Solid

The city’s oldest continuously running Mexican restaurant has brought the heat since 1959.

325 E. 34th St., New York, NY, 10016



Reserve on OpenTable

Known For

The lowdown

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 purée 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.

What you need to know

Recommended DishesGuacamole; shrimp quesadilla; mole poblano; bouillabaisse Veracruzana.

DrinksFull Bar

Noise LevelCivilized