Every time I visit New York City, I spend at least one night with one of my childhood friends from summer camp. Each trip she makes it her personal mission to take me somewhere new and she always encourages me to blog about our dining adventures.
On my most recent trip, she took me to a restaurant in the Pod Hotel called Salvation Taco. The restaurant is owned by the same duo that owns The Spotted Pig and The Breslin in the Ace Hotel.
As you may have guessed from the name, Salvation Taco is a Mexican restaurant. We went on a cold, rainy night and as soon as we stepped through the door I felt like we'd been transported to Mexico.
The restaurant has a long bar (this photo below only shows half of it) with brightly color stools and fun lamps decorated with fringe.
Part of the dining room is illuminated by a rainbow of paper lanterns.
The front section of the dining room glows with twinkle lights.
I particularly loved this hot pink glass wall separating the restaurant from the hotel lobby.
We were seated at a high top table in front of an interesting wall. The wall is back lit and each little cubby has a small statue or toy inside. They glue them down, so don't get any souvenir ideas.
The menu is mostly small plates and there is definitely something for everyone.
It took me until after our waitress removed our menus to realize our table was covered in watermelon tiles. How cute!
Casting a warm glow over our table was a religious candle. There was one at every table in the dining room.
To start, my friend ordered a drink called the Palomita (which means little dove). It's vodka and grapefruit soda, garnished with a rim of vanilla salt and a grapefruit rind.
She let me have a sip and it was actually very refreshing.
I went with the Salvation margarita, the house speciality, which is rimmed with chili salt. You can also order these by the pitcher, which I'd highly recommend if you come with a bigger group.
At my friend's recommendation, we started with the chips and guacamole. This guac was so incredibly fresh. Though the ingredients were simple, the taste was amazing. We practically licked the bowl.
For my entree I ordered the roasted cauliflower tacos. The serving was three tacos in a soft shell with mixed grains and curried crema.
Personally, I like traditional tacos: hard shell, crispy iceberg lettuce, juicy tomatoes, spicy black beans, guacamole and shredded cheese. These were a bit too sophisticated for what I was craving, but they are definitely a solid vegetarian choice.
My friend went with the carne asada tacos. She said, "This meat is not only cooked perfectly - juice and tender - but flavored really nicely. It has a little bit of spice."
Given that the taco portions were small, we were definitely open to having dessert to end the meal. The two guys next to us saw us eyeing the menu and urged, "You have to get the churros. Seriously. Do it."
And so we did! The churros came in the ideal portion size, four cinnamon sugar covered pastries. They were nice and crispy on the outside and warm and doughy on the inside.
They came with a pot of dark chocolate dipping sauce, which really elevated the richness and decadence of the dish.
We also requested the ice cream. We received two perfect scoops, one Marcona almond and one Mexican chocolate.
I wasn't sure what almond ice cream would taste like, but it was unexpectedly awesome! The flavor was sweet, but had crunch from the nuts. The Mexican chocolate flavor had just the right amount of kick and was packed with dark chocolate chunks.
After we devoured dessert, we walked around to check out the rest of the space. Behind the dining room is a space that is part lounge, part collaborative working space. Who wouldn't want to work beneath this canopy of paper lanterns?
I'm obsessed with this color blocked bookshelf!
Even though it was nearly 8:00pm on a Sunday night, people were working away on their laptops.
Now, for the best part . . .
. . . Salvation Taco has a roof deck.
It's not advertised anywhere, you have to know about it (which of course, my friend did). Through the hotel lobby, you take the elevator up to the 17th floor and then you walk out onto the deck.
My friend said, "Does it look like ancient ruins?"
The view from the roof was breathtaking. This is a true hidden gem.
Though our waitress had a serious attitude problem, the rest of our experience at Salvation Taco was killer. The space is outrageously bright and fun, the food is fresh and delicious, the desserts are out of this world and they played an entire Jay Z album while we were eating dinner. And don't even get me started on that roof deck. Wow.
Visit Salvation Taco at the corner of 39th Street and 3rd Avenue.