La Piñata: A Treat of Taste
Story and photos by Robin Elisabeth Kilmer
The lure of piñatas has long been the treasures hidden within. The new Piñata in town, however, saves you the trouble of having to smash anything to enjoy the treats.
La Piñata Mexican Grill has become the latest installment to claim a culinary stake on corner of Broadway at 207th Street.
Owner George Almendras, a veteran restaurateur who also runs a local Thai restaurant, concluded that the area, despite a diverse array of eating establishments, needed something new.
“I saw that the neighborhood had a need for a good Mexican restaurant,” he said. Upon entering La Piñata, one is instantly put at ease.
There is a welcoming cushioned banquette with bright pillows, and the walls are painted in vibrant hues of blue and yellow. Floor-to-ceiling windows afford a view of the busy thoroughfare as you bask in the sunlight that beams in.
“It’s really relaxing,” said Almendras.
He explained that while La Piñata will be open from noon til 11 p.m. on a daily basis, he expected their lunch menu, on which most items are under $7, will be the most popular. Anyone who has gotten their fix from a Mexican food stand knows the goodness of a handmade, fresh corn tortilla.
La Piñata brings this favorite indoors, and serves it with a side of rice and beans.
Grilled to perfection, the tortilla cradles tender chicken that is doused with a red chili sauce made from a combination of three chilies.
The chipotle leaves behind a smoky flavor, and two other chilies complement the chipotle’s overture, but Alemendras would prefer that their identities remain secret.
Sauces are a key element at La Piñata, and they are all made fresh in-house.
“Everything is made daily; we don’t have space for storage,” explained Almendras.
So far, there are six principal sauces, but the chefs are open to experimentation and suggestions.
With its emphasis on healthy options, La Piñata aims to a healthy take on Mexican cuisine.
Their beans, made without lard, are all vegetarian, and most of the dishes are grilled.
“We don’t have too much use for frying.”
Still, if you should wish to indulge as if you were, indeed, at a children’s birthday party with treats to be had, La Piñata can help there too: there is fried ice cream.
La Piñata Mexican Grill
(At 207th Street)
New York, NY 10034