Gabriela’s Mexican Restaurant

When you need to make a reservation for a bunch of people, your choices are a little slim. 
Even slimmer when you have to keep it curtailed to a certain neighborhood, and when everyone in the party is on a budget. 
Luckily, Gabriela’s took our reservation for nine people, was right on the UWS, and was kind enough to seat our incomplete party.
Okay, fine…I was the late one. I admit it. Are you happy now?

Mini Margarita

This is genius. A mini margarita, enough to get a lightweight quite tipsy, but not so much that she leaves stumbling. Quite a strong kick of tequila with a wonderfully frosty texture and a tart-sweet limeade taste

Chips and Salsa

You know how I feel about complimentary chips and salsa. These chips were freshly fried and still warm, delicious in the fruity red salsa or the much spicier and herb-heavy yellow salsa. The yellow salsa was particularly addictive – it reminded me of Indian food because of its heavy use of cilantro and cumin. Very pungent and very tasty. 

Carnitas Tacos

Once again, Gabriella’s comes through for those on a budget. I had quite a few chips with salsa, so I ordered only an appetizer size of the tacos. For $5 more, I could have ordered the entree size, with another taco and two sides, but there was no pressure from the extremely efficient and competent server to spend more money. I  received two small tacos filled with crisply fried pork. Crunchy on the outside, moist and tender within, these carnitas were as good as any I have had in NYC. The tacos were served with diced onion, fragrant cilantro, and creamy avocado dressing all on a freshly griddled corn tortilla. As soon as I finished the tacos, I wished I had ordered the entree size – not because I was hungry, but because I simply wanted to eat more of them.

Spinach Salad with Organic Spinach, Red Onion, Local Honey-Lavender Goat Cheese, Pumpkin Seed Chipotle Vinaigrette, and Roasted Chicken
Though I can’t truly endorse ordering a salad in a Mexican restaurant, it is nice to have an option to eat healthily when you want to…I guess. Anyway, this was a very good salad – fresh greens, succulent pieces of chicken, and a nutty, spicy, creamy dressing. The standout here was the goat cheese. Incredibly sweet and creamy, I couldn’t taste the lavender, but I didn’t taste the potent, grassy taste that goat cheese usually has either. The lavender must have worked to neutralize that taste, making it a natural counterpart for the savory dressing and fresh vegetables. If you are going with a salad, this is the one you want. 

And if you just want great variety, Gabriela’s is the spot you want. Grab a seat at the bar or a table, and get a mini margarita and a full blown meal, a huge margarita and an appetizer, or just a beer. Though the atmosphere is casual-upscale, it is nothing short of jovial. Unobtrusive music, laughter everywhere, excellent service and food, and very good prices. 

Let’s put it this way…next time, no matter how many chips I eat, I am getting a full order of the tacos. 
And a full sized margarita.
Gabriela's Restaurante and Tequila Bar on Urbanspoon