Chef Dani García opened Manzanilla on Manhattan’s East 26th Street earlier this year, and it’s already received a star from The New York Times, who hailed it as "a grand entrance" for the chef, who’s renowned in his home country of Spain. He’s brought much of his Spanish charm to the menu at his first American restaurant, and at lunchtime, this charm is best experienced through its three sandwiches: Ibérico Pork "Secreto," a Bocadillo de Calamares, and an Oxtail Burger.
The "Secreto" takes slow-cooked skirt steak from Ibérico pigs (best known for their jamón Ibérico), and places it on bread from Pain D’Avignon, then tops it with chunks of spicy chorizo, caramelized onions, spicy mayo, and long green peppers. It’s sweet, spicy, porky, just the right level of messy, and wildly fulfilling.
The Bocadillo de Calamares (top) starts with a long, soft white roll, also from Pain D’Avignon. This gets topped with a heap of perfectly fried calamari, tomato jam, and fresh grated tomato, and in a nod to the fried seafood sandwich that it is, romaine lettuce and tartar sauce. It’s a well-composed beauty, and is a perfect summertime lunch.
Finally, the burger (left). The patty is unlike any we’ve encountered before, because it’s half 80/20 meat from Pat LaFrieda and half traditional Cordovan oxtail stew. You heard right: oxtail is braised in red wine, onions, carrots, and tomato, then pulled off the bone and mixed with minced mushrooms, caramelized onions, and the reduced braising liquid. Then it’s mixed with the raw beef, seared, placed on a homemade brioche bun, and topped with havarti cheese, pickles, arugula, and oxtail mayo. When you bite into it the meat crumbles away, and you’re left pondering how a simple burger can be such a winder to behold. The answer? It’s not a simple burger.
Lunchtime is the perfect time to drop into Manzanilla. It’s not crowded, the large windows let in ample sunlight, and, best of all, you have the opportunity to try two of the best new sandwiches — and quite possibly the best new burger — in the city.
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