Mexican Restaurant Opens in Long-Vacant Downing St. Space
By Andrea Swalec
GREENWICH VILLAGE — Downing Street is set to get a little tastier Thursday, when Mexican restaurant La Camelia opens for dinner in a long-empty space.
The restaurant at 64 Downing St. had been vacant since 2006, according to New York magazine.
La Camelia's owners, Carlos Elias and Eduardo Nacipucha, say their menu features ceviche, made-to-order guacamole and a different kind of mole each week.
The restaurant's chef, Alfredo Luna, will put Mexican twists on other dishes, too, like rack of lamb prepared with Mexican spices, Nacipucha said.
"We want to bring authentic Mexican cuisine and some innovations," said Nacipucha, who is originally from Mexico City.
La Camelia will offer daily drinks specials and a wide variety of tequilas.
Nacipucha, 42, ran Maria's Mexican Bistro in Park Slope but said he was forced to close last year after the space's rent was hiked from $6,000 a month to $10,000 a month.
"To pay that kind of rent we could move here," he said.
Nacipucha said he looks forward to serving some of his old customers their favorite dishes from his old restaurant, like their "famous" chiles poblanos with Oaxaca, Manchego and Chihuahua cheeses, chicken, raisins, walnuts and sweet plantain.
Elias and Nacipucha said they spent a year looking for a space for their new restaurant before finding the Downing Street space.
"People were concerned about why nothing was here for such a long time. And they're excited to have us here now," said Elias, an economist who became a restauranteur just three years ago.
Ken Begasse, a Port Chester, N.Y. resident who works on nearby Varick Street stopped by La Camelia with two coworkers on Wednesday hoping it was open. He said he had been watching the renovations.
"There is a need for Mexican food here," Begasse said.
The restaurant will serve brunch starting at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, and will open at noon for lunch and dinner starting Monday. They will also offer takeout and free delivery within about five blocks.