West Harlem’s newest hidden hot spot is open and already making a name for itself as Hamilton Heights’ go-to place for authentic Mexican food and cocktails.
With rustic décor that includes creative mason jar chandeliers, exposed bricks, and concrete floors, as well as Day of the Dead Skulls and a bright and colorful graffiti mural, Oso, is a lively, fun place to either start or end your night out. This restaurant has a gorgeous, fully stocked bar (completely with over 20 small estates of tequilas and mezcals) as well as a bustling, open kitchen where you can see hundreds of freshly prepared tortillas being made-to-order nightly.
Owners Matthew Trebek and Nodar Mosiashvili have put together an impressive menu focusing on the street food of Mexico City and have also created an innovative cocktail program to highlight the ingredients native to Mexico.
According to a recent press release, “Oso's authentic Mexican style street food is inspired by Matthew Trek's frequent trips to Mexico City. The California native perfectly captures the essence of food, culture, family and heritage of the new Hamilton Heights.”
Hailing from California myself, I can attest that the Mexican cuisine offered at Oso is as close to authentic as you’ll most likely find in New York City (a place that I often struggle to find decent Mexican fare).
The impressive beverage menu includes unique cocktails like Michelle’s cartel, a mix of cucumber vodka, dolin blanc, elderflorwer, lime, and mint; diosa de guava, blanco tequila, guava, lime, and cilantro; and Frida Y Diego a potent libation of kraken black barrel rum, Mt. Gay, velvet falernum, and ginger beer. As someone who loves tequila, the selection of drinks were fantastic.
We began our meal with the following starters: the buttery elote (corn-on-the-comb) with a chipotle aioli, cotija cheese, and chili flakes; tamales with queso oaxaca and rajas; and a bowl of crunchy chicarones. We also had a refreshing and vibrant watermelon salad that was filled with jicama, watermelon radishes, and candied sunflower seeds in chili lime vinaigrette.
We continued our feast with a whole bunch of tacos — because there’s never a bad time to indulge your taco cravings. Here’s a rundown of what we had: the spit-fired al pastor with pineapple; the grilled shrimp with chipotle aioli; the fish of the day with cabbage slaw and crispy shallots (the shallots were perfection); and the chicken, with its rich house made mole.
Larger dishes offered range from the classic enchiladas and chile relleno, to the octopus with stewed pimiento and a whole fried market fish.
Obviously a meal isn’t complete without dessert. I highly recommend the freshly prepared, sugar coated churros with both chocolate and a rich caramel sauces, as well as some scoops of the horchata ice cream on the side.
Stay tuned for more news on Oso’s nightlife events and fun late night offerings that are sure to resonate well with the chic, hip, taco-loving crowds of Hamilton Heights.