EAT: Coastal Mexican cuisine at Pampano Botaneria
209 East 49th Street
(Btwn 2nd and 3rd Avenues)
New York, NY 10017
Tel: (212) 751-4545
With eight different kinds of sangria available and a host of “coastal Mexican” plates, Pampano’s updated botaneria is the new go-to for authentic, yet globally-influenced delicacies.
Sangrias at Pampano Botaneria come in a host of sizes (a glass is $10, a small pitcher is $30, and a large pitcher is $42), and tastes, including mango peach, blueberry lemonade, apple peach, kiwi rose, and sparkling strawberry mint. As between the blueberry lemonade and strawberry mint, I recommend the former, which is destined to be a wonderful compliment to sunnier weather and a pleasant way to wash off the kick featured in many of the kitchen’s offerings.
Compliment said sangria with a dish primarily comprised of one of Mexico’s most classic fruits, the avocado. The fresh, homemade guacamole, complete with crispy, not-greasy nacho chips ($7), should be followed by a tasty nacho sampler ($8), the highlight of which is surely the rajas con queso (wild mushrooms with cheese). Continue to try the empanada de langosta ($10), a lobster-stuffed empanada presented on a bed of roasted pineapple salsita that is impossibly fresh, and mushroom masa flatbread ($9), which comes with carmelized onions, goat cheese, and a slightly-heavy dose of truffle oil. To complete a meal at Pampano Botaneria I would suggest the homemade, traditional churros with mexican dark chocolate sauce for dipping.
As noted, fresh plates churn out regularly from the kitchen. So, too, does the staff’s passion to please, exhibited by the restaurant’s ability to accommodate its guests to any degree. As stated by Pampano Botanteria Sous Chef Ray Julian Ruiz, one of Chef Sandoval’s ambassadors of authentic Mexican flavor: “if you’re a real cook, you got to think on your toes.” Though this time the context was last-minute notice of a vegetarian preference, Chef Ruiz explained that accommodation is deeply ingrained in Mexican culture, dating back at least to the Aztecs, who apparently altered their dishes to satisfy the palates of their Spanish invaders, resulting in the creation of chilaquiles. Chef Ruiz also expressed his desire that each patron leave not just having enjoyed a delicious meal, but to have participated in a real, memorable experience.
Incidentally, there are no chilaquiles on the menu, but as for the spirit of the nation from which they are inspired, there is undoubtedly a heavy dose.