The Big Apple has no shortage of Mexican restaurants to offer – in fact, in 2020, ArcGIS StoryMaps (@arcgisstorymaps) reported that there are nearly 1,000 in the five boroughs. However, La Contenta is surely not to be missed. This hidden gem in both the Lower East Side and West Village is overseen by Chef Luis Arce Mota, who showcases his Mexican heritage and years of French culinary training on a nightly basis. Hailing from Mazatlán, Mexico, Chef Mota provides the New York dining scene with a plethora of traditional Mexican dishes, such as Chile Relleno Y Succotash and Pollo en Mole Poblano.
Upon arrival, you will have the opportunity to choose between dining in an outdoor casita or at one of the tables spaced at a safe distance indoors. You’ll immediately notice the delightfully whimsical decorations hanging from the ceiling. Each week, the restaurant team hangs various bright-colored piñatas and streamers in keeping with whatever theme they choose.
To enhance this culinary experience, place an order at the bar with Alex Valencia (@alexbarlencia), Head Bartender and Chef Mota’s restaurant partner. A truly passionate and talented mixologist, Valencia’s specialty is surely tequila, mezcal, and other spirits such as bacanora and raicilla. He and Chef Mota frequently collaborate with established agave farmers all over Mexico to keep the practice alive and to share the delicious variety of agave spirits with New Yorkers. Wine lovers will rejoice to learn La Contenta has the largest selection of Mexican wines within the city.
When the plates are cleared but you find yourself in the mood for something sweet, ask for “whatever Chef has for dessert,” and you will not be disappointed. Whether you’re noshing on a light and flaky fig tart or a rich creamy flan, your taste buds will be tantalized and your wanderlust will be fulfilled, if Chef Mota joins you, that is. He has traveled all over the world, and visited all seven continents; on his journeys, he is able to sample the cuisines of the world and draw inspiration for his own eatery.