Angelo Sosa--the season seven Top Chef contestant who ended up in second place--opened Anejo Tequileria in Hell's Kitchen as chef and partner this past January, focusing on aged tequilas and similar Mexican fermented products. Fork in the Road recently declared the margarita there best in the city, but what's Sosa's food like, you wonder.
Actually, the place is his finest culinary moment so far. Tequila is a strongly flavored liquor, and he has come up with a series of small, intensely flavored dishes to stand up to it. The menu is blessedly brief, including guacs, tacos, tamales, and a section of further miscellaneous small plates such as shrimp ceviche (which we normally hesitate to eat unless we're sure of the source of the shrimp), strange salads (radishes and pear, mushrooms and jicama), and corn dumplings.
There are three rather creative guacamoles, and the one we tried--featuring pumpkin seeds, tomatillo, charred pineapple, and pomegranate--was extremely tasty, and still seemed like guac despite the plethora of ingredients. It was served with freshly fried half-tortillas, which glistened invitingly in the basket.
Of six taco choices (taquitos, really), we picked the beef, braised in mole with a flavor darkened by charred pico de gallo. The pair was the high point of the meal, though the $13 price tag seemed a bit steep. Nevertheless, this dish was entirely memorable and miraculously filling.
The third thing we tested was the tamales, of which three were available, either wrapped in corn husks (called Pueblan style) or swaddled in a banana leaf (Oaxacan style). Although the banana-leaf style was ordered, what arrived was the corn-husk version. It wasn't a real tamale, either, but rather a filling deposited in a pre-formed corn masa boat, the plug of pulled pork topped with creamy sauce and dried cheese. It was good, but not a real tamale.
The meal and drink left us wanting to try more of the food. Score one for Sosa.
668 Tenth Avenue
With 120 seats—at the bar, traditional tables, and counter-height communal tables—the new Añejo is larger than its sibling, and the menu (see below) includes many of chef Angelo Sosa‘s hits, while adding new dishes. Sosa is best known for his stint on “Top Chef,” and while he oversees the Añejo brand’s food, his former executive sous chef Jonas Offenbach will be running day-to-day operations in Tribeca.
For tequila to be classified as “añejo” (“aged” in Spanish), it must spend one to three years in an oak barrel. Añejo, the restaurant, is taking its eponym to heart by aging tequila and mezcal (including that of Tribeca-based Ilegal) on its downstairs level. The idea is to have celebrity patrons sign the barrels, which will be auctioned off for charity once they’re ready.
301 Church Street
301 Church Street