photo credit: Emily Schindler
Every once in a while you walk into a restaurant and immediately know you’re going to like it. One step into La Contenta and we knew it was on. The Feel Good Factor™ seeped into our veins. Sign me up, pour me a drink, and feed me guacamole and chips all night long, bartender. This Lower East Side spot is small in stature – they have 14 seats – but huge on personality. It’s a Mexican restaurant with excellent cocktails and a chef with serious skills.
The menu at La Contenta is made up of modern takes on traditional Mexican, and the dishes are very good. You’ll find excellent guacamole and nachos, an awesome pork belly tostada, and some of the better fish tacos around. But our real enthusiasm for La Contenta springs from the fact that it is the ultimate neighborhood hang. It’s the kind of place you’re psyched to return to, so it makes sense that pretty much everyone at La Contenta on any night of the week is a regular. They know the bartender with the sweet hat by name (It’s Alex, by the way), and treat him like family.
Need a good low commitment idea for a first date? La Contenta is your move. (And nab the bar booth seat situation in the corner.) How about a reasonably priced place to catch up with your friends over drinks and maybe a little dinner? Yup, La Contenta is good for that, too. Out late on the Lower East Side and need a nightcap and some fish tacos? They serve a bar menu till 1:30am Thursday through Saturday. We’ll be sending people here on Text Rex constantly from now on.
La Contenta is the Mexican version of Upstate Craft Beer & Oyster Bar. It’s a restaurant run by a small team of super dedicated people who truly care about their craft and their customers. It’s under-the-radar, and yet the people who know, know. That’s how it is. Well, now you know.
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Tequila, mezcal, and agave-based cocktails are the focus, and Alex the bartender in the hat we referred to above, has serious cocktail skills. Everything we’ve had to drink here has been awesome. They also make a bunch of different micheladas, including one with blackberries that’s great.
Excellent guac. Bonus points for making it look like a flower. Double bonus points for asking if we needed a chip refill. TWICE. Love when there’s more than enough guacamole that you actually need a chip refill. It’s the little things in life.
A heaping plate of nacho satisfaction.
Pork Belly Tostada
The pork is perfectly cooked – sweet, smokey, and all kinds of moist. The tostada somehow doesn’t fall apart when you bite into it, which is impressive. Really enjoyed these and would order again.
One of our favorite things on the menu, La Contenta has sleeper awesome fish tacos. They’re crispy and fried and incredibly tasty. Order them.
Probably our favorite thing on the menu. Loved our enchiladas stuffed with crab. Incredibly satisfying.
A very solid cut of skirt steak. Well cooked, super juicy. It’s served with a buttery mashed potato and a creamy, incredibly unhealthy spinach, both of which are great as well.