The Early Word: A Casa Fox

A Casa Fox is the outgrowth of a successful catering company that's well known for empanadas. We stopped in last night for dinner—the room is very small, and appealing in an intentionally mismatched knick-knack, stone wall, wobbly wooden tables, fireplace kind of way. The cutesy-boho thing going on reminded us of a coffee shop. There's a pared down menu with a bunch of empanada varieties, some small plates and five "clay pot" main courses.

We got the mini empanada selection, which was great—the crusts were crisp and very hot, and the fillings ranged from earthy mushroom to pleasantly oily chorizo to melty queso fresco.

The main dishes, though, were fine but a bit disappointing, especially given the hefty prices. They come in hot clay dishes, but clearly haven't been cooked in those clay dishes, so I'm not sure what the point of the whole production is. I had marinated, slow-cooked pork ribs, which were very tasty, tender and flavorful and not too fatty. But they cost $24, and the sides of black beans and rice were okay, but underseasoned and very run-of-the-mill. You could get something similar for less than half the cost at any Spanish-American place on the corner. We also tried the shredded chicken with carrots, which was, again, fine, but unexciting.

It's not that the main courses were bad, but they were lacking the zest and thoughtfulness that should go into cooking if you want to charge over 20 dollars for a plate.

Don't forget to ask for their homemade hot sauce if you go. It's fantastic—bright orange with habaneros, but so skillfully made that the sauce ends up being more flavorful than fiery.

To sum up: A Casa Fox has serviceable pan-Central American for the pretty LES set, with prices to match.

A Casa Fox 173 Orchard St 212-253-1900


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