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The Platt 101 Honors a Few Latin Joints

Back in 2006, New York Magazine food critic Adam Platt released his top 101 restaurants in New York City, but not without poking fun at himself, first. He wrote:

You’ll find similar crotchety judgments and opinions sprinkled throughout these pages. They are the product of nearly 1,000 meals digested over the course of five bleary years as a professional restaurant critic. They’re informed by a whole grab bag of personal tastes (more crispy pork products, please) and prejudices (easy on the club music; don’t dress waiters up like ninjas; no wine pairings). Because this critic has an aversion to high-priced franchises and restaurant chains, several much-praised establishments, like BLT Fish (one Michelin star) and Nobu 57 (three stars from the Times), didn’t make this list. Because five years isn’t a long time, many of the restaurants listed here tend to be newer rather than older. There are plenty more I’ve neglected, and probably a few I’ve just plain forgotten. Are these the absolute best 101 restaurants in New York City? That depends, I suppose, on your point of view. Is this a better guide than, say, Michelin’s? Since it’s written by a New Yorker, for New Yorkers, we certainly think so. But for the sake of international harmony, let’s just say it’s different. Let’s just say we’re adding to the fun.

New York Magazine has decided to revisit the list, and update it for the coming new year, offering a “culinary snapshot in time.”

Anyway, we know what you’re really here for – the Latin/Spanish picks. On a list of 101 – a list with oh my God so many Italian restaurants on it – two tapas joints and a Mexican restaurant make Platt’s list. Upset at this decision? If we’re to take Platt at his word, he’ll welcome your disagreement. Anyway, these are the restaurants, and their rankings.

74. Casa Mono
“All sorts of Spanish-restaurant concepts have come and gone over the past five years, but Andy Nusser’s durable Gramercy Park tapas operation feels as fresh and lively as ever. The prime spot in the smoky little submariner’s space is still the bar, where it’s a pleasure to watch Nusser and his grill men whip together their artful tapas combinations. The new Whole Organic Animals section of the menu contains an impressive array of meat lovers’ delicacies—pork croquettes, chorizo, goat-liver pâté—from beasts butchered in-house.”

93. Empellón
“Alex Stupak won numerous awards as a pastry chef for his madcap dessert creations at wd~50, but at this cutting-edge Mexican joint in the West Village, he turns his attention to savory food—specifically tacos. The objects of his obsession are served in all sorts of unexpected shapes and sizes—the fish taco is made with tempura-fried shark—but the ones you’ll keep thinking about are the old favorites, in particular the smoky, deliciously addictive lamb borracha taco, spiced with fiery Oaxacan chiles, orange juice, and a wicked hit of mescal.”

99. Txikito
“The name of this diminutive Chelsea tapas bar means “little” in Basque, but there’s nothing undersize about Alexandra Raij and Eder Montero’s rigorously authentic Spanish cooking. In the evenings, the polished limestone bar fills up with tapeadors feasting on full-flavored tongue-twisting specialties like txilindron (spicy spareribs), and little mountains of crispy edged patatak mentaiko (fried potatoes) served, in the Basque style, with pots of mayonnaise laced with cod roe. The lunchtime El Doble burger—two patties of all-American beef dressed with layers of melted sheep’s-milk cheese—is equally bold.”

So take all that for what it’s worth. What did the list leave off?