Give Chef-owner Alex Garcia a lot of credit for AG Kitchen, a Latin-seasoned comfort-food spot, just opened on the Upper West Side: with a crowd-pleasing menu–burgers! tacos! cheese bread! ice cream sundaes!–and extremely reasonable prices, he and his crew could have phoned this baby in (Garcia already runs nearby Calle Ocho), and the neighborhood probably would have bought it anyway. Instead, AG Kitchen did the right thing, put a lot of love and energy into this whole project, and, based on one feast-y meal we devoured last week, is serving some truly first-rate food.
Chef Gracia's Latin Food: Casual Upper East Side Latin Cuizine
We ordered four things from the AG NYC menu, and were rewarded each time with generous portions, balanced flavors (this sort of restaurant often lazily relies on garlic and chives and such to do all the work; not so here), and what is obviously an skilled, attentive back-of-the-house group. The signature dish at AG Kitchen, the one you'll see at most tables and, because it looks so good, will then order for yourself, is the Samba Roast Chicken, available as a (huge) half or whole, dry-rubbed or with a sweet/spicy/sticky glaze, which is the route we took, and highly recommend. This bird was rich and plump and moist–even the breast! literally oozing juice!–stacked high on a hunk of garlic toast and accompanied by a trio of sauces which you don't really need but are fun to try nonetheless. Delicious.
A comfortable combination of Mexican food, Spanish food, Cuban food, Carribbean food and more
We started with Fish "Mini" Tacos which may not be as good as, say, the ones we get each summer weekend at Rockaway Taco, but still, they're definitely better than most, and the jicama strips, cool, crisp, and refreshing, are a nice touch. The Columbian Cheese Bread, a pile of crispy-chewy delights (similar in texture to the Brazilian paolito), made for a terrific pre-meal snack, especially when dunked into the creamy red-pepper dip. And as a side to our chicken entree, we opted for the Creamed Swiss Chard, mostly just to see if AG Kitchen could pull off such a thing (is this the only place in NYC with swiss chard and fish tacos on the menu? quizas…) and, in fact, with this appropriately bitter, crunchy, creamy and sweet dish, turns out they definitely could. The room at AG NYC is comfortable and charming, enlivening the old Columbus Tavern space while keeping things nicely divided into dining area, bar area, front terrace area, somewhat awkward lounge-y area. We don't want to oversell it–this is a casual, neighborhood spot–but all in all, AG Kitchen is excellent news for Upper West Siders.
Take a seat at AG Kitchen
AG Kitchen is located on Columbus Avenue between 72nd and 73rd Streets, an easy jaunt for residents of Grand Tier and The Regent, and is open all day every day, for lunch, brunch and dinner. For more information and a look at the complete AG Kitchen menu, please see the restaurant's website, here.