Photo of Empellon Cocina in New York, NY, US
Photo of Empellon Cocina in New York, NY, US
Photo of Empellon Cocina in New York, NY, US
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Empellon Cocina

Mexican Restaurant

$$$$
Empellon Cocina64
guacamole • tacos • tasting menu • spicy cucumber

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  • Photo of Nic Brown
    a year ago
    One of those restaurants that will make your group say, "Oh! Good idea!" Empellon Cocina has gone through some revamps over the years, and the East Village location is now better than ever.
    1 Like
  • Photo of Lily Soule
    2 years ago
    1 Like
  • Photo of Gael Greene
    3 years ago
    Empellón Cocina is an evening with genius too. I would space out this immersion in sensual bliss lest the kid get hooked on eating too much.
    Like
  • Photo of Kenji Lopez-Alt
    3 years ago
    Despite the stigma of expensive tacos, Empellon has flourished, with a packed house nearly every time Ive stopped by.
    Like
  • Photo of Tina  Brown
    3 years ago
    Try the the ropy, deliciously textured short-rib-pastrami taco.
    Like
  • Photo of Eater
    4 years ago
    Chef Alex Stupak, in his second Mexican outing, embroiders traditional dishes with mind-bending new ingredients, sending such recipes as queso fundido, ceviche, and guacamole.
    Like
  • Photo of Farrah H
    3 months ago
    We stopped by for happy hour before our night out. I highly recommend the lobster taco and the fish tempura taco. The margaritas were made with top-of-the-line tequila, so it made the $14 price tag less painful.
  • Photo of fluffnfold
    6 months ago
    My spouse and I dined at Empellon Cocina for dinner on a Saturday evening in mid-February 2017. (“Empellon” means “a push or shove” in Spanish.) The restaurant is open for dinner only on Tuesdays through Saturdays (closed on Sundays and Mondays). You can reserve a regular table using the Open Table reservation system, but to reserve one of the four spots at the chef’s table for the tasting menu, you must make (and pre-pay) for your reservation using the Tock online system. Chef/owner Alex Stupak, a former pastry chef, has worked at NYC’s wd-50 (now closed) and Chicago’s Alinea. He operates Empellon Restaurant Group, which includes Cocina, Al Pastor, Taqueria, and the soon-to-open Empellon. When the East Village’s Cocina was renovated in April 2015, the restaurant built a special table that overlooks the kitchen where two to four guests can interact with the kitchen staff while dining on multi-course tasting menus. You can choose a smaller 18-course 1.5-hour $95 menu (available weeknights at 7:30 pm or weekends at 6:00 pm), or the longer 22-course 2.5-hour $165 menu (only available weekends at 8:00 pm). Accompanying beverage pairings are priced at $30 and $50, respectively. The high-top chef’s table is separated from the regular dining room by an open bookshelf, and it is a table, meaning that it does not border the kitchen as a chef’s counters would, but instead allows room between the table and counter for your personal chef to plate and present. Jason Beberman (formerly of Dressler, Miller’s Tavern, and Gramercy Tavern) was our chef for the evening, and he was informative and personable. Empellon serves Mexican-inspired cuisine a la carte that you can order a la carte or as a 3-course $42 per person tasting (which includes guacamole, one starter, one main course, and one dessert). A large format meal, which must be pre-ordered, feeds 6 to 8 guests, and includes a whole roasted pork shoulder served with tortillas, fried rice, chicharron, black beans, pickled red onions, mixed salad, and salsa. Reportedly, Cocina boasts NYC’s largest selection of tequila and mescal. Our tasting menu was inventive and unique and employed a variety of ingredients, preparations, and plating. A few ingredients displayed nixtamalization (an age-old alkaline chemical reaction that renders normally indigestible raw field corn edible). Our list of courses follows, but without too much details so it won’t spoil the surprise: 1. Finger lime candy 2. Conchas (“shells”) with cultured butter (fantastic rolls and butter with an incredible maize shot) 3. Natas (“cream”) with uni (Although a luxury item, uni is not my favorite ingredient, but this was excellent!) 4. Savory rice pudding with caviar (After eating the tasty uni dish, I thought to myself, “If only Chef could make me like caviar like he just did with sea urchin”, and Wish granted! My caviar dish was delicious!) 5. Gordita inflada (“inflated”) with salsa verde mousse 6. Trout flauta (This was one of the most memorable dishes, because it included trout sushi wrapped with trout skin and then topped with trout roe: it was like eating trout three ways! Somehow Chef managed to make the crispy shell stay together even when we had to bite it in two.) 7. Kumamoto oyster with nixtamalized popcorn kernels 8. Pozole explosion (sort of like a Mexican soup dumpling) 9. Rice and beans (nice and crispy and served in slices) 10. Burrito ends with sour cream and caviar (My spouse is still proclaiming the simple brilliance of this dish and wondering why other chefs don’t offer it!) 11. “Scotch” egg (but with chorizo) 12. Grilled chicken with “mole” (Mexican bittersweet chocolate sauce) 13. Salsa (customized with our choice of peppers, garlic, onion) and served with masa crisps (made with the largest “molcajete y tejolote” [mortar and pestle] that we have ever seen!) 14. Quesadilla with chicharron and “quelites” (greens) 15. Inverse tacos al pastor (pork and pineapple from the “trompo” [rotisserie]) 16. Hoja santa “sacred” leaf summer roll (We thought that this licorice-tasting brilliant dish was the lone dessert course, but it served as more of a palate cleanser before the actual sweet offerings, which were terrific!) 17. Ice cream tacos 18. Orange sorbet with sal de gusanos (a little bite in an elaborate presentation to end this phenomenal meal) Our extended tasting menu dinner at Empellon Cocina was one of our all-time favorite meals – we loved the casual atmosphere, the constant personal interaction with the chef, and the unique ingredients, innovative dishes, and varied plating and presentation. Highly recommended!
  • Photo of moniwash
    6 months ago
    Bland guacamole with greasy tortilla chips. Over seasoned sauces and tacos. Fish in ceviche was not marinated long enough. Too fishy... lacked lime. Service was good!
  • Photo of DavefromNJ
    6 months ago
    This was simply spectacular. We reserved the experience and had a wonderful meal. I travel a lot, eat at many restaurants and while not a "foodie" I know what is interesting cuisine. The blending of flavorful Mexican cuisine as the foundation weaved into other great international concepts was perfect. Each course was creative, delicious, and served in perfect dishes which complimented the course. Chef described each dish with a description of the Mexican concept and how it was adapted for what we were tasting. If you are looking for a great dining experience reserve the Kitchen Table for up to 4 pp.
  • Photo of Rozelle R
    8 months ago
    We went for Restaurant Week & to celebrate my husbands birthday. It was our first visit. The Spicy Cucumber Margarita was the best I've ever had. My husband ordered and raved about the Winter Margarita! (touch of Bourbon). The guacamole with pistachio nuts was amazing. The cashew salsa was inventive and yummy. The appetizers were the high light. We had the pork, the cheese & brussel sprouts (amazing), and cerviche. We had tacos, I liked the chicken tenders. The dessert was a creamy milk chocolate pudding with goats milk vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with a nutty- tasting grain. The waiter was very attentive. We noticed the cookbook "Taco" on a shelf, I think by the chef. We will be back!!
  • Photo of MomsABeachBum
    8 months ago
    We tried Empellon Cocina as part of Restaurant Week and were very pleasantly surprised. This is not your usual Mexican food place. The atmosphere is eclectic, with a small bar area and a chef’s table in back. The music matches the décor (though not the food), with selections that might be heard on a college radio station. The margarita list is inventive. We tried the Saffron and Winter margaritas, and both were exceptional, although the Winter does not go very well with the food. Though we did not try any of their wines, their list looked quite good. The service was excellent, and the waiter was very knowledgeable about the menu offerings. Usually, we are not fans of guacamole, but the pistachio guacamole that was served was very tasty, as were the home made chips and salsas. For starters, we chose the red snapper ceviche and the chicken meatballs. The ceviche had orange and pineapple in it and was a refreshing treat from the usual lemon and spicy versions. And the meatballs were just delicious, slightly spicy with a touch of sweetness. The goat tacos were creamy, and were definitely the table favorite, though the pork belly tacos were well balanced and very good too. The milk chocolate custard that came with the meal was the perfect end to a delightful dinner. Check out Empellon Cocina if you are in the mood for something above the standard Mexican fare.
  • Photo of Stephanie O
    9 months ago
    One of the best meals we had during our visit to New York - really delicious Mexican food, great cocktails and exceptional service in a warm and modern restaurant.
  • Photo of USCKaboom
    a year ago
    I was in the mood for Mexican food and hadn't been here in a while. Was better than I remember it even. We started off with the guacamole and 7 salsas. Seriously good. The roasted cashew might have been my favorite. The guacamole was very good as were the chips. Then had the corn with flan, which was nicely roasted corn with an interested flan. The savory chirps were very good, potato I think and covered in Parmesan. The sauce on the side wasn't particularly good so didn't use it, but enjoyed the churros nonetheless. We had the chicken finger tacos and goat tacos. The chicken finger tacos were average. The goat tacos were fantastic. We ended with the lamb shoulder which was a large dish that you could make your own tacos with. Good but a bit too fatty. Overall a great dinner. Drinks are sold. Service was good.
  • Photo of 82Brute
    a year ago
    Empellon Cocina is a contemporary Mexican inspired restaurant with modern, fresh twists on typical Mexican fare. Went for dinner with five in our party. We shared six dishes and a total of six cocktails. Bill came to $212 with tip. Worth every penny. All ingredients were top notch and perfectly prepared. Hard to get excited about guacamole? Not here. Our party fell on that like a pack of rabid jackals. The addition of pistachios and the homemade grilled chips were so delicious. Other standouts were Goat Tacos, thte squid and the Hokkaido Uni on Toast. Planning on going back again to sample their main dishes. Service was on point.
  • Photo of jbtor
    a year ago
    Dinner for 7 of us. Chose a number of items and shared. Waiter was very pleasant and helpful. Guacamole was exceptional, tacos were very good including the smelts. Pass on the mango salad.
  • Photo of Shon J
    a year ago
    Not a thing I could fault about this place. Everything from start to finish was delicious and top quality. Definitely get the six different salsa with the guacamole, the goat taco is top-notch, as are the spare ribs. Will be back and 100% recommend.
  • Photo of Ninorah F
    a year ago
    Great service. Good value for your money! Friendly! Huge portions! Love it! Decent prices! Make reservations for this place to be safe so you don't miss out!
  • Photo of Peter B
    a year ago
    Although not well described on the website, the Kitchen Table option for 2-4 people is incredible. A modern, cross-cultural take on Mexican food will change your view of Mexican food forever. It's 14 courses, but not as piggyback as it sounds, and each course is explained. Stuff you'd never order on your own seems perfectly wonderful. The drink pairing for another $40 is well worth it, with extra pours of the obese you like (tequila, bubbly, Reisling, beer, mescal). A fabulous experience.
  • Photo of frame82
    a year ago
    Empellon Cocina is the kind of place you might stumble upon in the East village without even realizing, only to be pleasantly surprised by the very friendly staff and the excellent, no fuss food. Service is fast, the tacos do what they are meant to do, with some exciting twists (oxtail taco most recommended), and the mescal cocktails which are now obligatory in fancy-ish Mexican places were well crafted. Definitely worth coming back.
  • Photo of AnfiskaC
    a year ago
    Food - they will recommend you to try their guacamole saying that it is the best one they have ever tasted (somehow this happens at every Mexican restaurant!) - well it might not be the best that is out there but certainly is worth trying - I liked the pistachio twist to it! I ordered squid - the plate was so beautiful I kept staring at it for a while :) and I have to say it was very tasty!! I also tasted oxtail tacos which were also very good. I did not order any dessert as nothing looked really appealing to me at the moment and I also was planning to go to Cienfuegos for cocktails and churros. I totally recommend it and most probably will be back there soon.
  • Photo of LifeFoodWine
    a year ago
    I joined my NYC friends in order to dine at the much talked about Empellon Cocina, a Mexican-inspired restaurant in the East Village. This place is by far one of the most food adventurous restaurants I have been to in quite some time. You must try the Fried Oyster Tacos and Spanish Red Prawns. Oh and if you are a tequila fan, the Classic Margarita is fantastic. Although I could only handle one.
  • Photo of Brooklynative
    2 years ago
    My sister and I ate here on a recommendation from one of her clients. The hostesses were welcoming and very accommodating (I had a large bag that they cheerfully checked for me). The décor is modern and well appointed. The staff is attentive, informative, and unobtrusive. They were also very friendly, wanting to know how we were enjoying our experience. Now for the food: FABULOUS!! We started with guacamole, a staple, refreshed by the addition of pistachios. Very high quality guac, an achievement in NYC. It was also served with seven salsas. These were served from mild to hot, all delicious and unique. Of special interest was the habanero. This is often ruined by being simply hot. Not at Empellon Cocina; the fruity flavor was preserved. Our entrees were very creative riffs on fusion Mexican, delicious and filling. We did have dessert, which was a standout. Too bad we were almost too full to really appreciate it. I highly recommend!
  • Photo of Spodolsky
    2 years ago
    The Kitchen Table is a chef's table tasting menu, served at a table that seats only 4, separate from the main dining area, facing the kitchen. Chef Alex Stupak plates your courses, discusses each course with you, and brings the entire experience to a new level. My wife and had the 10 course, earlier tasting menu due to time constraints, but we can't wait to return for the later 22 course offering. Chef Alex is an inspired man with a vision, providing an amazing experience, particularly for someone who is interested in his thoughts and variations on classic Mexican food. Not to be missed.
  • Photo of DGrae
    2 years ago
    Once you accept this is not a Mexican restaurant per se and is instead a man's vision is it a tremendous experience. This is super food that also makes you feel great. The ceviche is very good and interesting. Tacos - aside from the goat which I guess is not my thing (yet)) - are super. Informed tequila selection and house-made sangrita to compliment! Excellent service. I went twice within a week and will be a regular.
  • Photo of Ttttraveler
    2 years ago
    My passion is Mexican food. I cook it at least twice a week at home - moles, tamales, salsas, etc. I thought the kitchen table would be the perfect place to get new ideas and inspiration for my cooking. Take it to the next level. I was hoping to talk to the chef about some of the techniques while watching the food being prepared in the kitchen. I expected small samples of twenty-two courses. We also went with the beverage pairing. We started slightly late because the 6 pm table was just finishing. There were only two people at that table. As it turned out, there were only two people at our table. When seated a man asked us if we were doing the beverage pairing, and we said yes. He said the chef and I will be presenting the meal. We tried to talk to him, but he was very distant. We asked where else he had worked, and he said all over. Upon further discussion that turned out to be in NY and CA. My husband and I both got the feeling that he didn't want to be at this restaurant at all. He continued like this the entire evening. I will say that in all of my NYC restaurant experience (and perhaps all my restaurant experiences) he was the worst waiter/ambassador for a restaurant that I've encountered. There was no chef serving us that evening. What a disappointment. Isabelle, who is also the pastry chef, worked with us while the other man served our drinks. Isabelle was wonderful. She is from Mexico City and was so patient with all of my questions and broken Spanish. Still, she seemed rushed, like she had other things that she had to do as well as work with us. On to the food. There were some dishes that were spectacular! We started with leche de tigre, or tiger's milk. I was in Peru earlier this year, so I knew all about this. It was an excellent way to start the meal. The clam and tomato popsicle was just weird. Cute, but I didn't get a lot of flavor out of it. The apricot seed salsa was very good. One of the few new tastes on the menu for us. We then moved on to zucchini, which was my least favorite dish. After that we had the gordita inflada with salsa verde mousse. THIS was what I was looking for. Excellent. Full of flavor. Something I would like to replicate. The next dishes went by as nothing special. The grasshoppers were interesting, but our local restaurant serves them every September/October. One course was salsa. Ingredients were brought to the table, and we chose which ingredients to use. Raw garlic/roasted garlic. Tomatillos/tomatoes. Chiles. Since I make my own salsa at home, this wasn't new, but it was fun for me to think about altering some of my ingredients at home in terms of raw versus cooked. The salsa was good. The tacos al pastor were fantastic. The little rotisserie that was used to cook it was something I would like for home use. This was one of the best tacos al pastor I have ever had. The rest of the menu was unremarkable. Nothing that we wanted to recreate at home. About the beverage pairing. We were expecting something different. I'm not sure why. I guess when I read the FAQ page, it talked about "wine and beverage" pairing. It also said "eclectic and agnostic". In hindsight, "eclectic and agnostic" should have warned us away from the choice. I was hoping for Mexican wines, which we love, but are nearly impossible to find in the US. We started with tequila and along the way had sparkling wine, riesling, Spanish cider, pilsner, a beer/lime drink, ice cider, tawny port, frozen blackberry margarita, and ended with mezcal. Too many different alcohols and in a bizarre order. Yes, everything went with the three courses it was served with, but the overall effect was not good for us. A sour stomach during the night. Lessen learned about beverage pairings. Ask more questions before accepting. Our meal lasted between 1:30 and 1:45, not the 2:30 that was listed on the FAQ. Honestly, we were glad to leave to get away from the grumpy man. It was fun to watch the other cooks in the kitchen. They were more interactive than our drink guy. After tip and everything, our meal was over $500. The most expensive meal of our NYC trip and the most disappointing. We enjoyed the gordita, or actually the avocado mousse, and the tacos al pastor.

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