First Look: Stephen Starr's El Vez Opening Tonight in Battery Park City

By Kelly Dobkin  |  April 25, 2014
Credit: Rob Tallia

Philly-based restaurateur Stephen Starr (Buddakan, Morimoto) brings his tricked out Philadelphia Mexican eatery El Vez to NYC's Battery Park City beginning tonight. We spoke to Starr earlier this week to get all the details. Here's what you need to know.

The space: "It’s a very unique design," Starr tells us. "I wanted it to be the antithesis of the financial institution style. It’s very warm and cozy inside. It definitely has a Mexican vibe to it, but it’s not super literal." Designed in partnership with the Rockwell Group, the 200-seat restaurant is broken up into a few different areas. Just beyond the entrance, you'll note the wooden bar that resembles a 1900s-era saloon from the Old West. Past the bar you'll find colorful circular booths and banquettes along the walls of the main dining room. The "garage" room features old car seats in the booths, cement floors and a hand-painted mural by artist James Comey. A large outdoor seating area can be found on the wrap-around landscaped patio. And coming soon: a grab-and-go burrito stand will open.

The food: Chef David LaForce of the Philly location is behind the food here as well as consulting chef Nacxi Gaxiola (Pulqueria) and Dionicio Jimenez, a Puebla native. You can expect the usual canon of Mexican dishes: tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and several types of guac. An array of regional influences are apparent in the various menu items.  In addition, expect specials like Los Moles (mole three-ways), a negro mole with lamb, poblano mole with chicken and pipian rojo mole with pork, and Chile en Nogada, a poblano pepper filled with ground beef, almonds and dried fruit topped with a walnut sauce (pictured below). Check out the full menu below.

The drinks: The cocktail list features a long list of margaritas, sangrias and specialty cocktails like the Hair of the Dog: Milagro Blanco, Cocchi Americano, Solerno, lemon and Blood and Smoke: Fidencio Clásico mezcal, Cherry Heering, Dolin Rouge, blood orange. You'll also find 150 mezcals and tequilas plus other agave-based spirits like sotol, raicilla and bacanora.

The details: 259 Vesey St., 212-233-2500

Photos by Rob Tallia

El Vez NY Dinner

  • The bar

  • Chile en Nogada: poblano pepper filled with ground beef, almonds and dried fruit topped with a walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds.

  • Main dining room

  • Lamb “Arabes” Tacos - pickled vegetables and crispy potatoes

  • "Garage room"