Atmosphere: spacious, dramatic interior
Attire: smart casual
Ideal for: small groups, 1x1
Price: moderate - all entrees under $26
Location: 33 6th Avenue (at Broadway)
Website: click *here*
*All photos from this meal can be viewed on Flickr
As I walked through the doors of what used to be Bar Artisanal, I could not help but reflect on the French bistro fare that I enjoyed at the restaurant in the summer of 2009. And, with its demise just one year ago, I had to wonder: Could Pelea Mexicana finally be the anchor that will hold down this frequently turned-over space?
While the skeleton of the restaurant remained intact, the interior decor seemed drastically different.
I'd be a liar if I told you that Pelea is more aesthetically pleasing than Bar Artisanal. Perhaps it's just me, but this particular space seems much more akin to a French restaurant than to a Mexican eatery. But let's be honest here: the real test of Pelea would be in its food and drink - not in its lack of fancy-pants design details.
Upon being seated, Robin and I were greeted by our friendly server, who handed us both food and drink menus.
It did not take long for me to decide that I wanted to kick off my evening with frozen pomegranate margarita.
While we began to peruse the dinner menu, a bountiful basket filled with warm, salty tortilla chips arrived, accompanied by a trio of homemade salsas. Did I mention that this gesture was on-the-house? No charge for chips 'n salsa here!
To further whet our appetites, Robin and I ordered the house-made guacamole. While flavorful and blended with all of the right elements (tomato, onion, cilantro, salt, lime juice), I found the avocados to be slightly unripened, thus creating a less creamy, more dense texture. In order to remedy this, I added a couple of spoonfuls of salsa to the guacamole on my plate and further smashed the larger avocado chunks with my fork.
For my entree, I chose the Enchiladas Suizas, which were composed of shredded white-meat chicken, onions, and Chihuahua cheese - enveloped by soft, earthy corn tortillas and topped with a vibrant and tangy green tomatillo sauce. The enchiladas were baked and presented in a clay, oven-proof casserole. Black beans and a garlicky rice accompanied.
Although I told myself that I'd stop at two, I ended up eating the entire plate of enchiladas. Yes, they were that good.
Conclusion I really enjoyed my overall experience at Pelea and firmly believe that this newer Mexican restaurant is armed with some serious staying-power. I would definitely recommend Pelea to you, dear readers.