In a city like New York that offers something for everyone, JMI went South of the French Border to get a unique fix for our Mexican needs.
Oddly different from your typical Mexican restaurant, Itzocan‘s dinner menu doesn’t feature tacos, burritos or fah-gee-tas. Instead its a fusion of Mexican and French cuisine that’s on display. Like a sleeve of jailhouse tattoos detailing a person’s life story, Itzocan is Fermin Bello’s 25 year journey from immigrant dishwasher to French embassy chef to eventual restaurant owner/chef. Welcomed with a warm greeting and sent off with a hug (literally), this east village eatery was a step back to a time where the customer matters most with the food not far behind.
With Agent Skirt in tow – we both found the appetizers at Itzocan to be some of the most unique we’ve had at any Mexican French restaurant we’ve been to. Granted, it was our inaugural Mexican French visit but damn, the Queso Fundido was good. A cheese fondo of sorts, this plate started with melted Brie cheese and then held a delicious chirizo, mushrooms and poblano pepper underbelly. Paired with home-made tortilla chips, the night started off on the right foot.
For entrees, Skirt ordered the encrusted salmon (below) while JMI was served the braised flank steak. Both were good and included sauces that were rich but not overwhelming. The braised flank steak flaked like you’d expect and with some added salt, created a taste bud party that got everyone involved.
*red sangria with a ton of fruit and mexican beers (Pacifico, Carona, Modelo, etc) are your alcohol options.
Cozy but tiny in size; think slightly larger than that of a standard NYC bedroom – Itzocan has 7 dining tables and is highlighted with traditional Mexican musica playing in the background. Step inside and you’ll feel far removed from the annoying NYU kids, drunkards and banker wankers that are seemingly surrounding you a few blocks away.
The Final Bite
Itzocan is for anyone looking for fresh food that blends culture with unique pairings. Whether you’re going out with a group or headed out on a first or 15th date, JMI says to skip the entrees and share all the different appetizers. Their combinations and flavors are fun yet filling enough to leave everyone satisfied. If sharing isn’t your thing, yes, go for the entrees and ask what their daily recommendations are; they’re happy to show you the way.
Location: 438 east 9th Street off avenue a
Rating: 3.5/5 brandings
Cost: cash only, $13-20 entrees, $9 appetizers