Recently Opened Restaurants
by Julie Besonen, 02/05/2014
Photo: Andrew Rowat
172 Orchard St., 212-254-2233, Lower East Side, Manhattan
While Danny Bowien's Mission Chinese is being revamped, his followers are flocking to his latest joint, Mission Cantina, one block north. The windowed corner space manages to be both festive and bare bones, the brick walls painted pastel colors and bathed in blue light. Little bowls of thick, housemade corn chips dribbled with chili vinegar start things off with a kick. Tortillas are made in-house via a nixtamalization process that begins with fresh masa, resulting in far more flavor than supermarket varieties. Given that Bowien is an independent thinker, taco fillings are not tame: beef tongue with charred onions and peanuts; grilled, smoky brisket with bacon and queso Oaxaca; and confit pork shoulder with crispy jowl and pork cracklings are all worth wolfing down. His rotisserie chicken is also like no one else's, stuffed with rice, chorizo and pecans and basted with brown rice vinaigrette.