We were a little miffed when David and Vanida Bank closed their small but always-welcoming Amsterdam Avenue restaurant Recipe last year. With its comfortable, even slightly stylish room (for the Upper West Side anyway), and consistently good ingredient-driven food, Recipe had become one of our go-to neighborhood dinner spots.
The Banks also runs Land Thai Kitchen next door, which is another solid option up there on Amsterdam. Anyway, the news about Recipe closing isn't all bad, because in its place the Banks have opened a Mexican food restaurant, Cocina Economica, with Chef Pedro Hernandez Perez in the kitchen serving up an eclectic menu of Mexican home cooking.
From Classic Tacos to Non-Traditional Mexican Food
We ate an early, pre-movie dinner at Cocina Economica last week, really liked most of what came out Chef Perez's kitchen, and appreciated the effort on the rest. The Cocina Economica menu has dishes you might expect from a Mexican restaurant (tacos, carne asada, ceviche, quesadillas) but there are also plenty of less-common items here which seem worth exploring. For example: our satisfying plate of Lomo de Cerdo, a reasonably tender slab of braised pork loin, covered in an sweet, pumpkiny sauce, served with crunchy vegetables (swiss chard, corn, string beans) as well as sprig of earthy fried huauzontle, and black beans.
Chef Perez's Cooking at Cocina Economica Mexico
We're always a sucker for Chicken Wings, and this night was no exception. The Cocina Economica version are pretty standard issue, except instead of being served with a blue cheese dipping sauce, Chef Perez melts salty oaxaca cheese right onto the wings. It doesn't quite work–we like our wings a tad spicier, for one thing–but it's a good idea, and one we're surprised we haven't seen sooner. Unexpectedly, our favorite dish of the night was the Cocina Economica taco. Not so much the tortilla, which was just fine, but our chosen filling Beef Cheeks was first-rate: heavily seasoned, grilled to tender, chewy perfection. Nicely done, Chef Perez. See you soon.
Experience Cocina Economica Mexican Food
Cocina Economica is located on Amsterdam Avenue between 82st and 82nd Streets and is open Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., and on the weekends until 11:00. For more information and a look at the complete Cocina Economica menu, visit them online!