IXTA Cocina Mexicana & Tequilla Bar Review - New York City

IXTA Cocina Mexicana & Tequilla Bar

An exciting new restaurant in New York City only 4 months old. IXTA is not your typical Mexican restaurant.

Conceptualized and designed by Lesly Zamor of SEED design solutions. Zamor's inspiration came from the legend of Mexico's Iztaccihuati  a 17,342 feet high mountain, also known as IXTA. The warrior Popo and Aztec Princess Ixta are the Aztec gods of remembrance. Their myth immortalizes the lovers forever in the mountains that bear their name. Today the mountains Ixta and Popo are a symbol that the souls of the two star-crossed young lovers are together forever.

As you walk into IXTA the wall facing the door is like an altar to romance. Candles are fixed to the wall intermixed with small vases filled with individual flowers.

The interior has a primal visceral sophistication and is done in warm reds and oranges. The most unique feature is two large light boxes hanging over the bar. They are covered in an orange linen fabric and with the bottom of the box covered in dangling red orange blown glass teardrops. There are spirals on the walls and more candles and flowers. The wall leading to the bathroom has stone masks with candle light streaming out the open mouths and eyes. The doors to the bathrooms have anatomically correct, cut metal, male and female figures on them.

There is an inventive cocktail menu by Jerri Banks featuring many tequila drinks with exotic sounding names such as Sol Liso, Red Bliss and Tears of a Cloud. I ordered the Tears of a Cloud, a smooth lightly flavored drink made out of Bacardi COCO, coconut milk, pineapple juice and seltzer. While waiting for our meal we were served a fresh hot and mild salsa along side colorful tortilla strips in a metal box with the same spiral motif  which was featured on the walls. 

Chef Linda Japngie a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, formerly of Jimmy's Uptown and Jimmy's Downtown, designed the menu. The appointment of Executive Chef at IXTA marks Japngie's fifth year in the restaurant business. The menu she has created is not your typical Mexican cuisine. It is filled with exotic flavors and new twists on old favorites. She describes it as traditional Mexican dishes with a New York Twist.

I started with the Crispy Squash Blossom Salad, baby greens with deep fried cheese stuffed squash blossoms, toasted pepitas and a roasted red pepper vinaigrette. The flavors of the salad were perfectly combined and unlike any combinations I've had before. My companion had the Roasted Shrimp and Corn Tamales. Served in an open cornhusk the tamales were more stuffing than actual corn tamale shell and very flavorful.

For entrees I ordered the Queso Stuffed Chicken with warm forest mushrooms and mulatto emulsion. The presentation was lovely with the chicken being stuffed with the mushrooms, then sliced and appealingly laid out on the plate. The chicken was moist, tender and the flavors were surprising subtle at first, followed by a kick of heat and spice.  The second entr饠was the Coriander Charred Baby Lamb. The Lamb was perfectly cooked to a med rare as ordered with a rich dark charring on the outside. Again the presentation was lovely simple and elegant. The meat was tender and the flavors as with the chicken had a surprising heat and exotic quality to them.

The staff was friendly and helpful. One of the owners  came over to our table and chatted with us while we had our dinner. He told us the story of how he became involved with IXTA. He had a friend Mike Himani a successful restaurateur, who talked him into going into the restaurant business together. Only a few months ago he had been working on Wall Street. He commented to us that he found the restaurant business to be more glamorous and less risky than his experience with Wall Street. He also stated that he was sorry they had not purchased a larger establishment for IXTA. They were just starting out and already the tables are practically booked solid every night.

It's no wonder that they are already so busy. The atmosphere is romantic and trendy, the food delicious and unusual. Early in the evening they have a large after work crowd and as time progresses on it turns into more neighborhood locals and romantic couples.

Have I mentioned that this is definitely not your typical Mexican restaurant? Primal heat radiates not only from the surroundings but from the food itself. Whether your dish is spicy or not the food and this restaurant are Hot, Hot, Hot!

IXTA is a restaurant worth trying and with all the buzz that is going around I would recommend getting your reservations in early.

Dinner appetizers: $6-$13; entrees: $17-$24. Lunch prix fixe $10.95.

IXTA  Cocina Mexicana and Tequila Bar
48 East 29th Street
New York, NY 10016
212 683 4833
212 683 4744  fax
[email protected]


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