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It's Chili In There!

Food & Drink

New La Camella cantina gives Mexican-loving people what we want

It seems that every Mexican restaurant that’s opened in the past few years in downtown Manhattan either loses its love (the meat district’s Dos Caminos satellite, Mole’) or plain-and-simple shuts down (El Cabrito). We’re happy to report the quiet opening of La Camelia about a month ago, it’s our new secret pleasure. Just West of the block-owning Blue Ribbon conglomerate, at 64 Downing Street, you could miss the quaint spot, which is unfortunately positioned by a McDonald’s (right off nasty Varick Street, near the abominable S.O.B.’s club). Do take that turn off Varick onto WoHo’s (West SoHo’s) historic Downing, and enter.

La Camella is a great date place, post-Film Forum to boot. The food isn’t too precious, just incredibly fresh. Try the chile rellenos, the shrimp quesadillas, the mini-tacos (tilapia, chorizo, chili-rubbed steak) and the shrimp and filet dishes. Anything mushroom is also a good move. We admire the gorgeous presentation and extremely affordable for the portions and the love being put into it all. On a hot day, there’s nothing like the tableside guacamole, downed with perfect short-glass margaritas made with simple syrup. Our buddy Fritz is crazy about the fresh pomegranate margs, on the rocks. Make sure to ask for the fresh fruit of the day for their frozen varieties. Also request to be served by Rafael who is one of the nicest bartenders we’ve ever met, and presides nearly nightly. Get there before the crowds hit come September. The quiet opening is steadily growing a fan base. We prefer sitting at the bar to its many sparsely laid-out tables. And so you know, we are talking about $70 for two for dinner, and two rounds of drinks. Not bad at all, my friends. La Camelia, 212-675-7060.