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Rating: 4.3/5 (3 votes cast)

abc cocina margarita2We finally tried Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Cocina, which opened in May in the old Pipa space (38 East 19th Street between Broadway and Park Avenue South) next to ABC Home.

ABC Cocina features new spins on Latin dishes and much like its adjacent sister restaurant ABC Kitchen, focuses on seasonal local ingredients. I love this addition to the neighborhood, but select your dishes wisely, as there are some standouts that you won’t want to miss.

Margaritas: First off, they make a great margarita. I personally always order a classic margarita (100% agave tequila, lime, salt rim), but they have some nice other nice concoctions as well (grapefruit, basil-jalapeno). If you are still drinking cuervo gold (a terrible tequila blend) with some super-sugary margarita mix, and you wonder why you feel bad after drinking tequila, spit that stuff out and try a real margarita.

abc cocina guacamoleGuacamole: Second, some comments on the guacamole. Being originally from California, I have eaten my share of great guacamole, and when I saw it was ‘sweet pea guacamole’ my first reaction was to skip it entirely. But we ordered it and it’s actually quite good, with the sweet peas seemingly just an addition on the top. The warm crunchy tortillas are also the perfect accompaniment. You have the green light to order the guac.

The rest of the menu features very shareable dishes, so order 2-3 per person depending on how hungry you are. We will highlight some of our favorite things on the menu.

abc cocina burnt endsBeef Tenderloin Burnt Ends in chimichurri sauce: I loved this dish. It was the best thing I have had in the neighborhood in a long time. Bite-sized pieces of perfectly cooked beef tenderloin coated in a flavorful parsley/garlic/olive oil chimichurri sauce.

Burnt on the outsides, medium rare on the inside. I don’t eat a lot of beef but this was awesome, especially for chimichurri lovers.

Sweet Corn: The sweet corn with cotija cheese and lime reminds me of the street corn you find in Mexico or Cuba, except that they do the work for you here, slicing the corn off the cob and tossing it into a perfect side dish.

abc cocina fish tacosCrispy Fish Tacos: These are the best tacos they serve at ABC Cocina. A plump piece of fresh white fish in a light fry, served with aioli and cabbage-chili pickle. Definitely get the fish tacos!

Mezcal Cured Salmon: The salmon here is fresh and lightly cured in mezcal, and makes for a nice bite with the accompanying cucumber yogurt relish and crunchy potato flakes. As a fan of sashimi and ceviche, I liked this dish.

Shortrib Taco: The glazed shortrib tacos with habanero relish and frizzled onion were my second favorite tacos on the menu, but if you are choosing between meats, opt for the Beef Tenderloin Burnt Ends over these.

abc cocina arroz con polloBLT Taco: The BLT taco features a good bite of house cured bacon, arugula and roasted tomato. I wanted a bit more smoke and salt from the bacon, but overall it’s good.

Arroz con Pollo: The chicken and rice dish with crackling skin and lemon zest was a little bland for my liking, but we ended up taking it home and the next day it seemed to have more depth. Maybe it takes time for the flavors to settle in.

Peekytoe Crab and Corn Fritters: While they sounded great, it was hard to really see or taste the crab in these, so I would probably skip them next time.

I’d go back for a margarita, the fish tacos, and the Beef Tenderloin Burnt Ends any time, and look forward to trying a few other items on the menu to find the other hidden gems at ABC Cocina. It’s quite difficult to get a reservation, even in the dog days of summer, so plan ahead. Reserve at http://www.abccocinanyc.com or call 212-677-2233.Review: ABC Cocina in the Flatiron serves standout dishes, 4.3 out of 5 based on 3 ratings

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