A new spot to score queso has popped up in the East Village this week with the opening of Avenida Cantina, a collaboration between a few Tex-pats looking to drench the city in even more melted cheese—not that there's anything wrong with that! Dallas-born Christen Hagan, who runs Double Wide Bar & Southern Kitchen on nearby East 12th Street with partner Josh Gent, along with Allison and Dustin Baxley, from Austin and Corpus Christi, respectively, have created a space they hope will service ex-Texans with house-made tortillas and lots of Texas football on the teevee.
"We believe one of the main aspects of Tex Mex that homesick southerners miss is 'casual,'" Hagan explained. "While the city is flooded with fancy Mexican food, Texans and even local Tex Mex lovers in NY crave an authentic cuisine that’s priced like Tex Mex." To that end, there's nothing on the menu priced over $12, and that amount will get you a heaping platter of three enchiladas with salad, rice and beans or a beef and chorizo burger with a side of curly fries.
Chips and salsa are on the house, naturally, but the restaurant's white or yellow queso ($7) is a must-order, along with a variety of tacos (ground beef or shredded chicken, $3.50; brisket, fried chicken or catfish $4), plus all-day breakfast tacos ($2.50) stuffed with eggs, cheese and a choice of meat or vegetable filling. Tortillas are made in-house and can even be ordered as a side dish ($5/$7) with warmed avocado butter for dipping and slathering. Taco salad ($10), fried stuffed avocados ($7) and single-chip nachos ($7), a Tex-Mex hallmark, are also on offer.
There's a full bar upstairs pouring Shiner beers and fresh fruit margaritas, but the owners are employing a basement space and transforming it into The Mockingbird Bar, which they're billing as a "tequila speakeasy." In the dimly-lit spot they'll be shaking up Mexican Martinis and Mezcal Mules and hosting monthly events including a gay country night called "Whose Boots?" that'll be hosted every third Thursday.
25 Avenue B, 646-882-0593; avenidacantina.com