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Yet another reason to travel to the Graham Avenue L train stop, Mesa Coyoacan has amazing, inventive Mexican food that is among the best we’ve had in all five boroughs. The Pollo Pipian is fantastic and we keep going back for the refreshing cucumber margarita. Though the shared tables can at times feel a bit cramped — sit at the bar unless you have a group — the stellar food more than makes up for the somewhat drab atmosphere.
There’s “always something to discover” at this “upbeat” Williamsburg Mexican, a dispenser of “sensational” Mexico City–style cuisine and “absolutely killer margaritas” at an “affordable” cost; a “very cool” staff and “creative” decor help keep the mood “warm” and “inviting.”
Chef Ivan Garcia grew up in a borough of Mexico City called Coyoacan; the name refers to the place where the coyotes roam. At his swank Graham Avenue spot, it’s best to poach the juicy street-food items from the range of options on the menu. (Cactus salad, for example, may be popular in Mexican markets as the menu suggests, but we doubt it comes on a bed of mesclun in the old neighborhood.) Garcia’s palm-size tortillas recall Mercadito, where he was executive chef before branching out on his own (he also had a stint at Barrio Chino), but his tacos bundle simple, quality proteins: Juicy nubs of carnitas are made from Berkshire pork; beef is grass-fed.
Filament bulbs, vintage wallpaper, traditional ornaments and a staircase lined with votive candles give the space a homey Southwestern feel. It’s the perfect atmosphere in which to enjoy Garcia’s excellent and affordable multiregional fare, a worthy addition to the neighborhood and New York’s Mexican dining scene in general. An addictive appetizer of esquites melded the earthy-sweet flavor of corn kernels with a creamy, chili-spiked mayonnaise and salty bits of crumbled cotija cheese. Tangy, tomato-based seafood stew, meanwhile, provided a warming base for tender head-on shrimp, mussels and other toothsome fish. Building on the experience he gained cooking at Mercadito, Garcia also serves superb tacos