Just in time for the World Cup is the debut of Campeón (9 East 16th Street; 212-675-4700), a Flatiron sports bar with a south-of-the-border spin — decor is inspired by Mexico City, down to the hand-painted ceramic tiles. Sports fans will be excused if they miss that detail, though: The place also boasts 36 high definition televisions.
While sports bars rarely shake their bro-y vibes, Campeón is doing its best to attract non-sports lovers, too: Vibrant swatches of purple and gold, sidewalk seating, and large open windows help distinguish the place from a dark dive.
Chef Juan Manuel Reyes, a Mexico City native who worked the burners at China Grill and Diablo Royale, is in charge of the kitchen here, and he’s putting out a board that includes bar snacks like guacamole hybrids — including one with sauteed lobster — and wings glazed in habanero sauce and pineapple. You can also opt for a “nuclear option” for those wings, which gets you bird coated in ghost pepper — they’re so hot, you’ll actually have to sign a waiver before you eat them. “It’s the spiciest sauce I’ve ever had,” says Reyes.
Follow up the appetizers with more traditional Mexican fare, like tlayudas (Mexican pizzas) topped with chicken mole and oaxaca cheese and tortas filled with grilled skirt steak or scrambled eggs, or Reyes’ lobster enchiladas, ancho bbq glazed salmon, or a Frank’s Red Hot Kobe burger served on a jalapeño brioche bun. Campeón is also serving a few health-conscious options, like fresh salads and tuna tacos.
Cocktails are predictably filled with tequila for the most part — there are about 50 versions of the spirit on offer, including fresh fruit-infused varieties like strawberry-vanilla.
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 5, 2014