- scene: Trendy funky vibey Mexican, caliente and cool, figure that out
- sip: What starts with "t" and ends with "a"? Tequila!
- savor: Guac in a skull; tacos
- sit: Trendy troublemakers and scenesters, so you know, your weekend crew
- spend: $$
- address: Dream Downtown (355 West 16th Street)
- phone number: (212) 299-2336
- website: labodegranegra.com
Bodega Negra on a Saturday night is hot hot hot, and we are not talking about the salsa. The main dish of the night is vibe, and La Bodegra Negra serves it up in heaping portions, from the “hidden” entrance in a juice shop in a hotel (much sanitized from the sex shop front of the London original), to the attractive staff and party-ready atmosphere. There is just something about Mexican food that makes it synonomous with the kick-off for a big night and the favored cuisine of girls nights out; if I had to take a wild guess as to why this is, I would say that it has something to do with the magical powers of tequila, the best and worst liquor to happen to women. Anyway, upon being seated at Bodega Negra, Daryl and I were treated to the most exciting kind of celebrity sighting, our favorite handsome chefs Geoffrey Zackarian and Marc Murphy and their beautiful families, finishing up their dinners. Service was a lot better than I expected it to be- our waiter was very friendly and knowledgable and did not try to get us to over-order. We eased into the evening with a pitcher of margaritas, to which we added some supplementary shots (if you are going to judge, you can’t sit with us), and the margs were a little bit sweet, and an offing killer the next day.
We decided to play it pretty safe with the food, sticking to common mexican dishes and small plates, and we were treated to a satisfying meal; I am not going to discuss whether things were truly authentic or indicative of a certain style of mexican cooking, because it is just not that serious of a place. The guacamole, served in a giant glass skull, was a treat of green goodness, truly enjoyable, fresh and tasty, with a little bit of spice; scooping it out from the nooks and crannies of a skull is more fun than it should be, and the jicama slices and radishes were appreciated crunchy alternatives to chips, even if we preferred the chips. The lobster tostadita was a colorful light bite, with mango, cucumber salsa and avocado, present citrus and proper textures. The mixta salad was the low point of the meal, salty and not that exciting, but I guess that is our fault for ordering a salad ( we need to get something to keep us away from quesadillas.) The grilled skirt steak tacos were my favorite dish of the evening, simply done and not too messy, and I even ate the fish tacos, which received a needed textural punch from some jicama slaw.
We were politely asked to vacate our table at 10pm (what, no offer of drinks?), which was totally understandable based on the crush of people at the bar. Bodega Negra just oozes “hot spot” in a truly fun way, and I have a feeling it may be the death knell for La Cenita, but we will see how that plays out. The Dream downtown has become a bit of a nightlife theme park, with some many outlets and people wandering around, but Bodega Negra certainly has the IT factor.