As a long time fan of Toloache Taqueria (see previous post), I had been dying to try Yerba Buena for some time now (same chef/owner Julian Medina). After finally eating here, I can definitively say that this is honestly one of the best meals in the city. It’s intimate enough for a date night or with a couple friends – as a small location I’m not sure I’d want to be here with a big group. Either way make sure you go on an empty stomach so you can take advantage of all the goodness on this extensive menu because you’re going to want to order multiple courses!
Poquito Picante: Tanqueray gin + jalapeño + cilantro + cucumber + cointreau liqueur + fresh lemon juice. This might be the best cocktail I’ve ever had. It starts off sweet in your mouth and slightly burns as it goes down your throat (in a good way!). It’s very unique and incredibly refreshing despite the “burn.”
Papa Rellena: These are potato, mushroom, manchego cheese croquettes with a truffle jalapeño sauce and they are awesome. The sauce is addicting, as is anything with truffles, though there is no spicy element to it like you would imagine.
Chicharron de Calamar: This is blue corn encrusted calamari with sweet plaintains in a tamarind vinaigrette. The sauce on this is similar to what you would imagine one would put on a sweet, Latin chicken wing. It was really, really good. Though I felt bad because there was only one sweet plantain on the plate and I accidentally ate it myself.
Lechon: This was the best dish of the night! It is suckling pig over a yucca puree in a habanero mojo de ajo (some amazing sauce) – think Latin pulled pork over a sweet puree for contrast in flavor and texture. And the best part was that on top of the plate there was a piece of what I think was pork belly and the fat just melted in your mouth. This dish is not to be missed!
Moqueca “Brazilian Paella:” I had a couple bites of this dish (it was the dish my friend ordered). It was shrimp, clams, calamari, bacalao, and crawfish stewed in coconut milk and palm oil over rice. This was also really good. Once I had a bite I had to have some more, though I think that if I had ordered this dish on my own I would have found it to be too much.
Papas a la Provenzal: I had read that I should order the shoestring fries because they added a nice crunch to the main entrees. While they were really good and covered in garlic, I’m not sure they were necessary or essential to the meal.
Pastel de Chocolate: A Mexican chocolate cake with tequila blueberry sauce and Yerba Buena chocolate chip ice cream. Though this was delicious, it was also the most disappointing. When I read Mexican chocolate, I usually anticipate an element of spice that wasn’t present. In addition, the tequila blueberry sauce seemed minimal, though it clearly was drizzled all over the ice cream. I think that what I thought was a minty element to the ice cream was in fact the tequila flavor. Otherwise though this was good – I was pleasantly surprised that this was a molten lava style cake.
YerbaBuena LES: 23 Avenue A, New York, NY ($$$)
Executive Chef-Owner is Julian Medina, who also owns Toloache, Toloache Taqueria, Coppelia and YerbaBuena Perry.