Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Alphabet Mex

ABC Kitchen goes south of the border at ABC Cocina

Full_abcconcina

As Bob Dylan once reminded us, Spanish is the loving tongue.

Which is a little gross, if you think about it.

But at ABC Cocina, the phrase has never been more apt for love, or tongues, or everything in between. (As in, consider this your best new casual date spot.)

As with the original, Cocina's helmed by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his executive chef Dan Kluger, who made ABC Kitchen famous in the first place.

Imagine a cantina in which the interior design pixies from ABC Carpet & Home did a month-long residency: reclaimed wood, plastered walls, mismatched chairs and dripping chandeliers. But for all the fancy touches, not at all stuffy like ABC Kitchen.

The food's a little more relaxed, too, focusing largely on small plates of spring pea guac, mezcal-cured salmon, and "gooey spicy" fritters of ham and cheese. A whole section of the menu is given over to masa and tortillas, with short rib tacos and spiced chicken empanadas.

The wood-burning grill in the back offsets the energy-efficient bulbs in the front, but go ahead and complain. You'll miss out on the glazed baby back ribs and house-made chorizo, which means more for the rest of us.

From the bar comes a veritable fiesta of cocktails, from passion fruit sangria and mezcal margaritas to the perfectly contradictory gin and coconut water.

We call that both a hangover cause and a hangover cure.

ABC Cocina
38 E. 19th St. (Broadway), Union Square
(212) 677-2233
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Price: 3 (out of 4)
Noise: 2 (out of 4)
Subway: 6 to 23rd St.
Scene: Casual dinner daters and the Flatiron work crowd.
Hot seat: The communal tables are just fine, but the booths flanking them are cozier.
Best bets: spring pea guacamole; baby back ribs; gin and coconut water
Nearby: craftbar; Milk & Honey; ilili

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