Cosme’s rapid ascent to superstardom owes nothing to hype; it’s all about the grub. To earn its status as one of the best Mexican restaurants in the city, it uses more than high-quality ingredients; it relies on an inventive kitchen to reimagine familiar fare as something entirely fresh: crunchy tostadas topped with arctic char or eel, moistened by bone marrow salsa — a delicate, flaky fish enhanced by spices and fruits typically associated with spit-roasted pork. Each of these dishes would have rightfully contended for a top spot on our list of favorites, if they weren’t eclipsed by the mouth-watering masterpiece that is the duck carnitas.
Served in a skillet, this crisped, sizable portion of fowl, made for two, is probably the best date dish in the city — so long as you don’t fight over who gets the last piece. It arrives at the table with warm, housemade blue corn tortillas, and two types of salsa: a tangy, acidic verde, made with tomato and serrano peppers, and the slightly more picante salsa de árbol. The fajita-style preparation allows you to build your own tacos. Allocate ample chunks of moist, juicy duck meat, crunchy, fatted skin, fresh cilantro, peppers, raw onions; however you see fit.
The $59 price tag is surely enough to deter some. But if you get past the sticker shock, you’re rewarded with half a duck breast — enough to fill nearly a dozen tortillas with tender meat, sweetened slightly by an extended marinade in Mexican Coca-Cola. As savory as that all is, the skin knocks it up to the next level — it has a satisfying crunch of salt and fat that will make it difficult for you to enjoy Mexican food anywhere else in the city.
The Village Voice is counting down to our Best of New York City issue in October. We’re combing the city every day, one dish at a time, to guide you to the most delicious food in NYC. These are our 100 Favorite Dishes for 2015, in no particular order, save for the top 10.
Here’s our countdown up to now:
#93: Almayass’s Mante
#75: Ippudo’s Pork Buns
#66: Pulpo at Toro