28 July 2008
la palapa cocina mexicana
It seemed that few things were going to be accomplished this afternoon. I met Julia in Bryant Park for lunch, made a few calls. I wandered down Park Avenue, and eventually underground. I stepped on the first train that drifted in. I emerged at eighth street. At midpoint in my book, I decided to find a place to settle. I nixed the temptation of iced espresso at my favored Le Pain Quotidien ,and forged on, until I came to the open air La Palapa.
A couple slouched over margaritas, the woman clinging to her dirty french grey Dior bag, the man slightly somber. Another woman sipped wine as she perused her email. A man grappled with a bloody mary. This seemed to be the place where I could read, sip and be welcome-- on a late Monday afternoon.
To stave of the frustration of my server I ordered the white sangria w/ hibiscus. He brought it to me in a pitcher with a small glass of chopped fruit. He placed spiced nuts adjacent. Cool, delicious and light.
Despite the open air, the scents of restaurant were warm and spiced. I submitted to a quesadilla w/ chili rubbed pork and pineapple (Al Pastor de Pork). A palate of three homemade sauces were brought to me. A verde, a vinegar based-roasted green and a robust red that ventured into the flavor of sun dried tomato and chipotle. I cannot begin to explain how wonderfully delicious this was. I am a huge advocate of spice and sauce- coupled with the tender, complex pork.
The sangria demi-pitcher emptied. I still had a handful of chapters left. I ordered a margarita on the rocks. The fresh juices were well pronounced, and better than average. I must admit- it didn't take the cake. Had I ordered the margarita first, then transitioned into the sangria and quesadilla, I may have been more pleased.
East Village Location: 77 St. Marks