I attribute finding this awesome restaurant to…myself. It was April 30th, my birthday was coming up, and I was looking to invite 8 or so friends to a restaurant with a fun and laid back environment, good food, large-group accommodations, and not-break the bank prices. I did extensive research online, and found Paladar – a lovely Mexican restaurant that seemed to fill every criteria I had. Vibrant atmosphere – brightly colored walls and funky latin music, awesome margaritas (drink 2 and you’re gone), great service, and…get this… a family style menu fit for a king at just $30 a person! By pre-ordering my choice of 3 delicious appetizers and 3 entrees, I was able to save the pain of having each individual order and divide the check accordingly. People came in knowing what they were eating and what they were paying – no surprises! Most importantly, the food was awesome! With such a great deal, I expected paltry portions or at least lack of flavor. But no, huge platters fit to feed at least 12 people filled the table, and not one of us left unfulfilled.
Choosing the pre-order menu was a tough job, but the manager I spoke to over the phone (just an hour before our reservation) patiently suggested all of his recommendations. For apps, I decided on Tacos de Pescado – marinated fish tacos with chipotle-lime glaze and mango salsa, an Ensalada Verde with mango & jicama, and a delicious wild mushroom quesadilla. They served huge plates of each and everyone was able to get a second helping if they needed. My only complaint would have to be that the fish in the fish tacos was a little tough, but all things considered they executed the family style plates perfectly. My fave was the mushroom quesadilla, and I could have ordered at least 10 other things from the menu and still been happy.
For main dishes, they have something for everyone. I played it safe and ordered a steak, a chicken, and a seafood. The carne asada came with an awesome salsa and a light green salad – and honestly the best yucca sticks I have ever tasted. The meat was excellent – buttery, tender, so flavorful – slightly charred on the outside but beautifully juicy and rare on the inside. The lime-chipotle marinated chicken was also a great staple for those a little less adventurous, and it came with potatoes and salad as well. Lastly, the market fish was served pan seared with garlic, lemon, chiles, and seasonal vegetables. It was definitely a step up from the fish in the tacos – I was sad to see so much extra food go to waste! The waiters even brought me a complimentary chocolate cake slice (though wasn’t too tasty, don’t order it).
All this great food accompanied by killer drinks, friendly & accommodating service, great company, and a fun-upbeat yet airy and comfortable atmosophere made my birthday the best. I will most definitely have my next large group dinner at Paladar, and will even consider it to get my Mexican craving fix with a smaller group. Don’t fear the Lower East Side – come check out Paladar!
Location: 161 Ludlow btwn East Houston and Stanton