What a great time it is to eat Mexican food in New York City (Cosme! Los Tacos No. 1! Mission Cantina!). And today, the city’s Mexican food scene just got exponentially better. Because tonight, Alex Stupak launches a brand-new 18-or-so-course tasting menu at the Kitchen Table at his redesigned Empellón Cocina, and it’s game-changing. “No one else should even try to do fancy Mexican food here from now on,” says Danny Bowien.
Stupak has been working hard to make people take Mexican food more seriously for years now. He’s quick to tell you that once upon a time, sushi was street food, too; if sushi can cost big bucks, so can tacos. And now they will. The price tag for his new menu is $150, plus $50 more for beverage pairings (get them). Here, some highlights of an astonishing new menu he previewed for Food & Wine:
Tiger’s Milk, a rich broth made from the citrusy, cucumber marinade for mackerel ceviche. “It’s the best part of ceviche,” says Stupak, who serves the mackerel for staff meals. It’s accompanied by a shot of El Mayor añejo tequila. A few courses later comes a Mexican Scotch egg: a small quail egg coated with a thin layer of chorizo with a coating of masa and water and fried, then served on a layer of masa crumbs that are like next-level Corn Flakes. Next, a series of salsa dishes based on one that you, the diner, create. (Decisions include choice of chiles; fresh or roasted tomatoes; raw or fire-roasted garlic; and fresh or roasted tomatillos and onions.) At the end of the salsa series, you can spoon a little bit into your Yonkers beer pairing with some lime, so it becomes a bespoke Michelada. After the salsa, there's corn-intense, tender Masa Waffles spread with Chicken Liver Butter; Stupak calls it a "transitional course." (“I don’t like palate cleansers,” he says.) And then dessert, including one of the all-time new terrific flavor pairings: chocolate-infused black mole sorbet with white sesame sorbet and candied sesame seeds. “Mole is always garnished with sesame seeds,” says Stupak, “ so we made it into the accompanying sorbet.” You finish, as you started, with a shot—this time it's Mezcal Vago.