UPDATE: This restaurant is opening Friday.
Mexican food sensation chef Enrique Olvera and his right-hand in New York, chef Daniela Soto-Innes, are just days away from opening a new restaurant that they’ve been wanting to do for a long time — Atla, a neighborhood Mexican restaurant that’s far more casual than critical hit, Cosme.
It’s something they’ve been wanting to do for a while. In fact, when they initially planned Cosme, they wanted to make it casual, Soto-Innes says. Cosme ended up being more upscale as they planned the menu, and now, it’s become more “celebratory,” she says.
They’re hoping Atla will be the place where residents feel comfortable visiting frequently — which is easier when most dishes cost under $20. By comparison, just three dishes on the current dinner menu at Cosme reach that price point and one of them is guacamole.
“It’s not a destination restaurant,” Olvera says of Atla. “Cosme kind of became that.”
In practice, that means a simple, all-day menu with a slant toward vegetables and healthy eating. Olvera is partial to a chicken soup — a bit of a misnomer for a dish that he says is mostly vegetables with a just a small portion of chicken for flavor. “It’s my lunch every day here in Mexico,” says Olvera, who’s been in Mexico City working on the reopening of his essential fine dining restaurant, Pujol.
Vegetables are more prominent than cheese in the quesadillas, made with a cornflower blue-colored tortilla layered with mushrooms and other vegetables. One tamal is made with kale. And there’s a very fashionable-looking chia oatmeal topped with cashews, pumpkin seeds, and caramelized ginger.
“We like to eat a lot of vegetables, but with a lot of life,” says Soto-Innes.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t some slightly richer items on the menu. Atla, with a kitchen run by Cosme alum, Hugo Vera, will have dishes like pambazo, a bread soaked in guajillo chili sauce, seared, then stacked with chorizo, potatoes, iceberg lettuce, queso fresco, avocado, and more. It’s an ideal food for the morning after a Mezcal-filled night, Soto-Innes says. Chilaquiles and huevos rancheros will be available, too.
Olvera says he lives very close the restaurant, which is located in Noho at 372 Lafayette St. Mostly, he looks forward to having a neighborhood Mexican place to dine for the ten days a month he spends in New York.
Once open, Atla will eventually have 90 seats, patio seating included. He’s hoping people will feel comfortable visiting after work for even simply a beer and a tostada. “We wanted to create a space where people could go and just call it home,” he says. “A regular place, kind of like a living room of your apartment.”
Atla is expected open in the next two weeks. Stay tuned for photos of the space and more.