When you think “Mexican Food” you might just think of tacos, chips & salsa, and margarita, the old-fashion, home-cooked style. But this is NYC, anything and everything can become fancy with a modern twist in this city. Here at The Black Ant, they have successfully turned the Mexican cuisine into something more creative and upscale.
And what else is great about this place? Their happy hour. Most of eateries in the city offers some kind of happy hour, some good, some not-so-good. We came to The Black And to check out their happy hour. They have small outdoor space with bar tables and chairs, and by open up the huge window, they bring in the outdoor feel into the inside. They have a nice big bar at the entrance, with thick wooden counter with ants decorated wall below.
The inside is long and with no window other than the front and back, it can get a bit dark, which is what they seem to prefer. I lightened up the photos here so that you can see what they really look like, but it is a bit more dimmed and darker in reality. I thought it was interesting that they have wooden floor towards the front, and tile floor on the back. The furniture was all made of wood, and had vertical garden installed on the wall, which was really cool. It gives some feeling of nature while you sit here.
And they are serious about ant here, the major artwork on the wall is a huge drawing/painting of an ant, colorful, detailed, and quite beautiful. They had cute little decoration from Day of the Dead right next to it, all colorful and adorable.
The rest of the walls are covered with black wallpaper with ants design on it. Even though the tables and chairs are all made of wood, the booth seats were black leather. Within this dark interior, I could see they are focusing their lights on the vertical garden, and light colored wooden furniture was illuminated in the dimmed lights, making the nature part more emphasized. It almost made it feel like you are in the nature, but under the ground, where ants reside. And if that is not enough, you can order one of their… well, interesting items, that has grasshoppers or Ant or some other bugs. I am not THAT adventurous or brave. I will stick with the ones without any bugs in it.
They have a courtyard space in the back, exposed brick walls, bright colors, and hanging plants. Very home-y, cozy, and have that picnic feel to it, it was such a cute space!
Since we were there specifically for the happy hour, we sat at the outside. If you want to order from the happy hour menu, you have to be at/around bar area. We heard a lot about their Guacamole, so we decided to start off with that. Guacamole Copeteado ($8) came with Avocado, cilantro, tomato, mango con chile, jicama, garbanzos, and corn chips. Honestly, I am not a fan of Guacamole. I tolerate it, because I know they are good for you, but I never thought it tasted good. Let me tell you, when I tasted their Guacalmole, I had the “Holy Guacamole!!!” moment. If you don’t know what that is like, go to The Black Ant and order their Guacamole. It was DELICIOUS!!! I didn’t know Guacamole can taste like this. I didn’t know it can be tasty. But then again, a wise chef once said something like “there is no such thing as distasteful ingredient. There is only distasteful dish.” Their Guacamole was the proof of that. If they ever want to teach me how to make their Guacamole, I will be right there.
The chips were really good too. They had two different kinds and shapes. I have never seen a round one, it was quite interesting, and yes, very flavorful. They went perfect with the delicious Guacamole. I also enjoy the mango con chile, it gave that extra freshness, texture and sweetness.
And of course, we ordered some happy hour special drinks to go with these fabulous Guacamole and chips. We got Mango Margarita ($7) and Smokey Jalapeño ($8). The server asked to make sure if we wanted salt on the rim, instead of just doing so without asking first. How considerate.
Smokey Jalapeño, as you can imagine, is a spicy drink, made with house infused tequila, orange liqueur, lime, agave, and smoky salt. It was a very high quality, strong drink with a nice spicy kick to it. If you like a quality drink with the heat, try this one.
Then the Mango Margarita. I love fruits, and of all of them, I have a few favorites. Mango is one of them. This drink, also very high quality and strong. It was velvety smooth, and you can really taste the mango. Not a “hint” of mango, but a real, solid mango flavor. Awesome!
I have been looking for a good fish taco, with lightly fried fish. And this was my lucky day, they had it! We ordered Tacos de Pezcado ($8), which comes with cod fish Baja style, flour tortilla, cabbage, lime aioli, and salsa cruda. It was a thing of beauty. Nice, large piece of cod, lightly fried, with great seasoning. Nothing like some other place where they will give you a tiny little piece of fish. The cabbage was fresh, and the lime gave that refreshing flavor that went perfectly with the cod.
The cod was so nice and flaky, moist, juicy…cooked just right. This was a complete winner! I can’t wait to have this again.
Of course, we didn’t stop there. We got Elote ($8), grilled corn, chipotle aioli, cotija cheese, agave worm salt. This was so unexpectedly awesome. It was coated with chopotle ailoli, dusted generously with cotita cheese, and a dash (or more) of salt. Everything worked so great together. If there was a corn heaven, this would be in it, because it was so heavenly.
Next up was Quesadilla de Pollo ($8). This comes with corn tortilla, Chihuahua cheese, chipotle braised chicken, salsa verde, and cream. Even these came out pretty and fashionable. It was not only pretty to look at, but it was tasty as well. It was fluffy, stuffed with goodness.
It had lots of chicken and Chihuahua cheese, which is soft white Mexican cheese. Really great combination of texture and flavor. I don’t know if I have ever had Chihuahua cheese before, but it was really good. The portion was pretty good, and since it had generous amount of everything stuffed in the inside, it was filling and satisfying. The spicy sauce was really nice and refreshing also.
We also got a second round of drinks out of the happy hour menu, Hibiscus Cosmo ($7) and Strawberry Daiquiri ($7). The Hibiscus Cosmo had this beautiful red color to it, and was very tasty. They really do great drinks here. It was strong, tasty, high quality. It was sweet but not overly sweet.
The Strawberry Daiquiri had more of pink color to it, and had great, fresh strawberry flavor. It was much sweeter than the Cosmo, but it was still very tasty. Strong, high quality, they totally did not disappoint.
We also ordered one item off the regular menu, something that got my curiosity: Cactus Fries ($9) with chilpaya aioli, gusano salt. I have not had cactus fries before, and I heard they do a really great ones here. And, I would say it was a good call. They were pretty good, the texture and taste similar to zucchini. They were crispy on the outside with flavorful crust, with juicy cactus inside. The aioli dipping sauce was really great too.
After the wonderful meal and drinks, we decided to order one dessert to share. I noticed one dessert item that said “good to share” on it, so we decided to go with that. We ordered Ya Supe Lupe Sundae ($15). I didn’t really paid attention to what the dessert was exactly, just saw “Sundae” and “share” and thought, this is the one! When it came out, I was surprised to see green colored ice cream scoops. So, what are they? I read the dessert menu again, and it said Avocado ice cream, torched marshmallows, choco mole sauce cajeta, chicharron, and flourless cake truffle.
I was a bit concerned when I read the “Avocado ice cream” as I am not a fan of avocado. But, they created the most delicious Guacamole I have ever tasted here, so the ice cream must also be delicious, right? the answer is YES! The ice cream was so tasty, creamy, velvety, just perfect! I can’t believe it was made with avocado… And of course, the rest of them were awesome also, the marshmallow was like a fluffy cloud, the truffle were soft, dense, melt in your mouth, and everything else was superb. It was worth every penny! You can see how happy I was with this dessert.
Our server, Camilla was a delight. Not only she was adorable, but she was very warm, kind, and helpful. She had such nice smile, it was so welcoming. There was a huge crowd of people around the bar, making it difficult to get through for anyone, so she was not always there when we needed her, but other staffs were very attentive as well, so we were very well taken care of. And, even though, those crowd of people are not very considerate of people trying to get by, Camilla and others brought our food and drinks without making a single mess. The food was plated beautifully, and drinks were filled to the top. They must have a very good, steady hands. It was hard for me get through, in order to go to the bathroom all the way back at the restaurant. Anyways, the food was amazing, service was great, we really enjoyed our dining experience here. It is now one of our favorite spot. I can’t wait to go back for some more wonderful creations!
The Black Ant – 60 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003