Morningside Heights was recently rocked by the sudden closure of Il Cibreo, and the subsequent speedy opening of a new restaurant, Amigos. Bwog sent our chief Enchilada Enthusiast, Roberta Barnett, to investigate.
When I heard that the newest restaurant addition to the Morningside Heights was going to be Mexican, I was disappointed. Another one?! The fact that it was replacing Il Cibreo (a location that has had Italian fare for 5+ years, albeit under different monikers), a purveyor of pretty decent Italian food and drinks, sent me almost straight to V&T’s, one of the few nearby Italian restaurants. At the behest of a number of individuals, I decided to try out the new restaurant, and I wasn’t entirely as disappointed as I might have thought.
Walking inside, the atmosphere is still eclectic, but with a Mexican flair. The lights are quite dim, but the multi-colored strings of bulbs that hang from the ceiling cast a soft glow perfect for a nice dinner. From my experience there, the staff is still working on perfecting the flow of seating and ordering, so be prepared to do a little bit of waiting. You can wait at the bar and order drinks if you’re waiting for a table to free up.
The drinks are decent, although nothing to rave about. There are some really fun house drinks, including the Shark Attack and Blue Whale (which come complete with a plastic shark or whale) as well as a 32 ounce rum punch meant for sharing. The frozen margarita are a nice deal at $4 any time. Unfortunately, they’re pretty small, and even though you can choose from a wide variety of flavors, the syrup sits at the bottom of the glass, pretty much defeating the purpose (note: you can try to mix it in yourself). As far as margaritas go, the Heights has no competition here.
The food, however, is a different story. All of the dishes are very fresh, and considering that we’re deep into the middle of winter, the vegetables in all the dishes were fantastic. Each table comes with house-made chips and salsa. If you’re a big fan of spice, most of the food, salsa included, is pretty mild. Despite being fresh, I wouldn’t quite call the menu authentic. That being said, I didn’t expect it to be; chef Alex Garcia is known for his new take on Latino cuisine. According to the New York Times, Garcia will rotate with a roster of chefs including Aarón Sánchez and Roberto Santibañez, so the food may vary from month-to-month. The waiters themselves know the food, and they can give good recommendations.
The appetizers or guacamole are a nice thing to share between a whole table with drinks, and there is a decent selection. The entree menu is pretty small, especially if you aren’t eating meat or seafood, but with dishes like ceviche and Mexican hash, there are enough special entrees to make the experience worthwhile. If, like myself, you choose to get a burrito, you’re paying about double the cost of a Chipotle item. While it is large and does come with some fantastic corn salsa and guacamole, I don’t think I would pay $15 to get it again. Perhaps it’s sticker shock following eating Taco Bell burritos over winter break, but it seems like a waste of money to spend so much on a burrito, even if it was pretty good. That being said, most of the menu is priced in a similar range as Il Cibreo, a bit more expensive than Tom’s, Deluxe, Symposium, Mel’s, and other nearby restaurants.
Would I recommend you go to Amigos? Yes. It’s working out its kinks better each day, and its generally good food deserves praise. I wouldn’t expect to find any new favorites, though. And even if you do, there’s a good chance it won’t be there tomorrow. Not only is the menu supposed to rotate, according to staff, but the slated run for Amigos is only four months. The jury’s out on what the new new new Campo will be like, but for now, Amigos is a festive place to celebrate your return to Morningside.