Oficina Latina: The New York Stop on the Pan-American Highway
Oficina Latina quietly opened its doors in October, 2010 in New York’s Nolita neighborhood (on Prince Street between Mott and Elizabeth Streets), and it’s offering up some seriously hearty, authentic fare influenced by stops along the Pan-American Highway, which originally ran from Monterrey, Mexico, all the way down to Argentina.
The brainchild of owners Max Busato and Paolo Votano along with chef Abraham Trinidad, it’s designed with largely reclaimed items to give it the look of a 1950s-era stop along that very highway. The tin ceiling is from the 1920s, lights are from an old mechanics garage, tables and chairs are all vintage, and the restaurant’s centerpiece, a 14-foot L-shaped bar, is made of white tile and reclaimed wood. The restaurant is cozy, intimate, and quite inviting.
There’s an impressive lineup of cocktails, again all influenced by Latin flavors. They use the classics including mojitos, margaritas, and caipirinhas as a jumping-off point, and build on those by adding an array of flavors. There’s also an astounding selection of more than 100 tequilas, rums, mezcals, and piscos.
But onto the food. There’s a bright and tangy calamari and scallop ceviche (right), grilled octopus with potato and celery salad, nicely cooked grilled tuna skewers, insanely rich fried blood sausage (not for the squeamish), and a braised lamb shank that replaces mashed potato with mashed sweet plantain.
Also worth seriously considering is their brunch, which is offered every day of the week until 3 p.m. Just $15 gets you a choice of offerings including chorizo, French toast, egg scrambles, and traditional Latin favorites like Llampingachos y huevos (goat cheese-stuff Ecuadorian potato patties), paired with a cocktail.