Casa Carmen is the only place outside of Mexico where you can try some signature dishes from chef Carmen Ramirez Degollado’s El Bajío restaurant empire. (It’s run by two of her grandsons.) This upscale spot in Tribeca focuses on traditional Mexican food that can be found all over Veracruz, Puebla, and Oaxaca, all of which is served in a room with earthy decor that makes you think you're at a hacienda-like resort where you'd book a horseback riding lesson. Order the refreshing ceviche with just the right amount of acid, the tostadas topped with shredded duck, and the chicken drenched in pleasantly bitter and sweet mole de Xico that's made with only 37 ingredients. On your way out, you'll see a big communal table that looks like it could host a council of supervillains (or, you know, a birthday party), so think of this place the next time you organize a big group dinner.
photo credit: Max Flatow