The highly acclaimed Tijuana Picnic is one of the most popular restaurant additions to the Lower East Side. Offering a wide variety of authentic Mexican cuisine, Tijuana Picnic is a spicy getaway for brunch, dinner, original cocktails focused on agave spirits such as tequila and mezcal, and dancing in the downstairs lounge. The restaurant is frequented by chic, in the know New Yorkers and has been featured in an impressive lineup of publications including W Magazine, The Last Magazine, Vogue, The Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, Harpers Bazaar, The Daily Front Row, Thrillist, Gothamist, The Infatuation, and more.
In December 2014, Jon Neidich and Jean-Marc Houmard, managing partners of Acme, together with Huy Chi Le of Indochine and designer Robert McKinley, opened Tijuana Picnic on the Lower East Side. A menu of high quality ingredients with non-traditional flavor accents transforms casual Mexican fare into bold, balanced and surprising dishes of fine dining-caliber. The cocktail program, headed by New York bartending veteran Jim Kearns, currently of The Happiest Hour and formerly of the NoMad Hotel and Mayahuel, focuses on tequila and mezcal, and other lesser-known agave spirits.
Chef Alex Lopez, formerly of Kittichai, leads the kitchen and riffs on the flavors of his native Mexico City with Asian accents. Highlights from the menu include Grilled Corn with cricket aioli and coffee-chipotle powder; Red Snapper Ceviche with citrus, avocado, cilantro and red Thai chili; Mezcal-marinated Shrimp Tacos with red cabbage & purple potatoes; and Juki Skirt Steak Tacos with shiso, spicy aioli & pickled veg. Chinese sausage Gorditas, pork dumplings in the Sopa de Tortilla, and yuzu in the Churros’ butter exemplify Lopez’s original, Asian-influenced approach to Mexican fare.
The downstairs dining room and lounge at Tijuana Picnic, features a late-night menu as well as an extensive selection of 40 tequilas and 40 mezcals. Retro tunes played by DJs most nights of the week, the peripheral deep blue banquettes and fewer tables make for a Mexican dance party and playful “south of the border” ambiance. The poured concrete floors, brass lamps and a plywood bar that glows from yellow resin, contribute to the bodega sensibility, elevated to the understated chic of Tulum at night. Open late Thursday through Saturday.
Tijuana Picnic is located at 151 Essex Street between Stanton and Rivington.