Michelin is a 133-year-old French tire company that began publishing guides to promote road tourism in 1900. It began awarding stars to restaurants a few decades later. The stars only began to shine in New York this millennium, and 65 places are currently pinned with the chosen anonymously honor, mostly in Manhattan, with 10 in Brooklyn and one in Queens. Many people believe that the restaurants they like deserve to be included and the restaurants they dislike are not. Everyone is right in any case.
Oxomoco, in Greenpoint, is a “Mexican, contemporary” competitor from Brooklyn, with a star meaning “High quality cuisine, worth a stop!”. (Two means “Excellent food, with a twist!”; three means “Exceptional food, worth a special trip!”) Her flank steak is one of the best I’ve had in New York, she served frozen drinks from years before an avalanche of similar drinks. -staggered destinations started last summer and it is one of Time Out in New York best restaurants in town.
In March, executive chef and owner of Oxomoco, Justin Bazdarich, followed suit and was awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand (this one for “good value restaurants”). Quick Romeo with Bar Tulix in Soho. Bazdarich has partnered with restaurateur John McDonald (Mercer Street Hospitality) to open the Mexican coastal operation in the space vacated by McDonald’s Burger & Barrel. Bar Tulix’s menu is influenced by the “years of traveling through Mexico,” according to a press release.
The refined dining room seats 65 people on dark green banquettes, booths, floral-patterned tables and chairs, under warm attractive lighting on different visions of red, high-gloss tiles and glassy accents. In common restaurant parlance, it’s a gem. Further abbreviated, Bar Tulix is too already rated Michelin, one of 25 additions on his radar released in July that precedes both the Bibs and the stars in a pre-committed manner that indicates he might have a more realistic chance of ending up among the two unmentioned companies. The footprint of the rubber company/recommendation giant/constellation maker is so deep that even this passing low-stakes attachment invites reflection on its value.
The Tulix bar is solidly good, and people who want to feel okay allocating money to hang out here (where many feel it’s a few bucks more than it should be, even in the context of recent headlines) will have more affectionate feelings than those for whom the guide has super-luxury connotations.
The cocktail menu illustrates the two notions on the nose. His $29, 24 carat cocktail is fine. Contacted through a representative, the management of Bar Tulix attributes the award to premium ingredients. Extra añejo tequila (a particularly drinkable spirit and aged a minimum of three years, 36 months in this case) doesn’t make a big enough splash in the Grand Mariner infused with chiltepín pepper, turmeric agave syrup (“100% blue Weber agave and hand-harvested from the fields of Guanajuato”) and a blend of lemon to justify the cost, and its presentation – poured into a glass and garnished with citrus fruits – doesn’t seem worth it. A classic margarita (18 $) is much better and worth rounds two and three, its freshness clearly apparent compared to the synthetic blend you might be sipping elsewhere.An extra dollar to make it spicy, however, doesn’t really change and only seems to alter the color of the salt rim.
The Baja guacamole is available in “single” ($17) or “double” ($29) servings, and the former is good for two. It’s nicely put together with an abundance of queso fresco, a bounty of cilantro, seemingly a whole crop of serrano pepper on the windowsill, and a few shots of salsa verde, all masking the avocado buried underneath. It’s a flavorful combination, yet light enough on the intended main ingredient to exceed expectations. It’s good, but this capricious fruit at its peak at the bottom of the bowl is surprisingly paltry. The accompanying tostadas are excellent and plated enough to separate and last until the dip is over with a little extra to taste the rising heat of the lovely salsa trio ($12) that culminates in a pleasant simmer .
The clam toast ($20) is a hit. Manila bivalves simmer in a broth of Monopolio lager, garlicky ancho and butter before their excellent-textured interiors are extracted and layered over the crispy surface of thick bread and softer center. It is well proportioned between two slices.
Forget the three masa-encrusted branzino tacos ($31 for three, hospitably offered to redistribute to four for sharing), which could be any fish fried under skillful batter. The cochinita pibil ($34), though outside of Bar Tulix’s emphasis on seafood and far off the protein spectrum, is the best starter, its rich roast pork soaked in evenly melted fat and flavored of delicious pickled red onions with a fork -full and stacked in corn tortillas. There’s also probably enough to share here, and even take home, depending on how you start.
Choose wisely and you’ll be rewarded with an appetite space for esquites, another of the best in the kitchen that complements a generous dish of plump, sweet corn kernels with Cotija and Chihuahua cheese, epazote, scallions and chives. Go ahead and try your luck with that guac, now that you know what to expect, add the terrific toast as well, and you’ll have enough of that fantastic side and great pibil to enjoy today and maybe even make it a little breakfast special tomorrow.
The atmosphere: Slick, stylish and quite local in a touristy part of downtown.
The food: A Mexican coastal menu with great shellfish bites like clam toast, land hits like cochinita pibil and excellent esquites.
The drinks: Top notch margaritas and a $29 forgettable drink.
Timing Tip: Bar Tulix recently introduced a weekend brunch service.
Bar Tulix is located at 25 West Houston Street. It is open Sunday to Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday to Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for brunch and Friday to Sunday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. for “afternoon tacos”.