Right before our eyes (and quickly into our stomachs): crisped maitake mushroom branches and bite-size pillows of masa bathed in a fresh, pasilla-spiked glaze.
The unlikely chef? Renowned pastry innovator Alex Stupak (WD-50, Alinea). To the surprise of potential investors — who predicted an upscale dessert den strewn with frozen creamsicle capsules — the 30-year-old’s debut restaurant, Empellón, targets one of NYC’s few culinary weak spots: inspired Mexican.
Opening today, Stupak’s defiant 90-seater offers an affordable mix of classic forms (tacos, sopes) crafted from unexpected elements (beer-braised tongue, avocado leaf-flavored sausage). Scattered around the gold leaf-flecked walls: photos of his wife (and pastry chef) Lauren Resler’s Mexican relatives, chili pepper close-ups, and other south-of-the-border artwork in hammered tin frames.
All welcome additions west of the Village.
Empellón, 230 West 4th Street, at West 10th Street (212-367-0999 or empellon.com).
Photo: Janelle Jones