The quality of the guacamole, I find, can serve as a benchmark for a Mexican restaurant. At Empellon it’s not a dish, it’s a parade. No, the guac is not elaborately pounded into submission tableside. Instead, the waiter brings over the softly folded avocado attended by foot soldiers: ten small bowls of salsas, from cashew to habanero, so that each bite can be customized. It’s a gesture at once dramatic and delicious, an announcement that this won’t be "a business as usual" meal. That’s for sure: tacos filled with octopus and peanut butter (OMG, so good!) or smoky slabs of thick cut bacon; a pile of nachos garnished with creamy sea urchin; masa-free tamales luxuriantly filled with duck and Asian sticky rice. Alex Stupak, formerly a pasty chef at such temples of molecular gastronomy as Alinea in Chicago and New York’s now-closed WD-50, is the mastermind behind this Mexican fusion fare, and he’s been so successful he now helms a mini-empire. Empellon is his fourth Mexican restaurant (the other three are downtown), and undoubtedly the grandest, an art and painted-tile laden two-story room, encircled by a balcony that brings to mind the verandahs on classic Spanish colonial homes. Two tips: the tacos come two to a serving and are massive, so be sure to share (that will also help with the size of your final tab). Also, it’s much easier to get a reservation at this business district restaurant on a weekend than on a weekday.
New York City
New York City› Restaurant
510 Madison Ave.
Our Rating Neighborhood Midtown East Hours Mon–Fri 11:30am–3pm and 5–10pm, Sat 5–10pm Transportation Subway: 6 train to 50th St. Phone 212/858-9365 Prices Main dishes $16–$39 (with three very pricey outlier dishes). Cuisine Type Mexican Web site Empellon
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.