High-End Mexican Eateries and Turkish Fast Food Come to East Village

By Julie Shapiro on February 21, 2012 8:09am 

OPENINGS:

Chef Alex Stupak has opened his much-anticipated Empellon Cocina at 105 First Avenue. The Mexican spot offers a range of shareable small plates, including smoked ricotta with three salsas and cuttlefish with heirloom potatoes, chorizo mayonnaise and black mole. The restaurant joins Stupak's Empellon Taqueria in the West Village.

Usually it's the Downtown restaurants that inspire offshoots in the outer boroughs, but in the case of Roberto Santibañez's Mexican Fonda, the opposite is happening. On Tuesday, Santibañez is opening a larger version of his three-year-old Park Slope eatery in the East Village at 40 Avenue B. The menu features tortillas filled with pulled chicken and creamy tomatillo sauce, and braised pork shoulder with ancho chile sauce and black beans, the New York Times reported.

The popular 5 Napkin Burger launched its fourth Manhattan location Monday night at 150 E. 14th St. near Union Square. The burger joint will be open for lunch and dinner beginning Tuesday.

It's hard to walk around Turkey without bumping into a branch of fast-foot joint Cigkoftem, and East Village residents may soon be able to say the same thing. The Turkish chain just opened its first New York location at 438 E. Ninth St. and is already attracting fans who are excited about not having to cross the Atlantic Ocean to get their fix. Cigkoftem specializes in spicy vegetarian nuggets similar to falafel.

Open House nightclub, at 244 E. Houston St., has reopened after being shut down by the Health Department earlier this month. The most recent inspection, done Feb. 6, found just nine violation points, a big improvement from the 38 points found a few days earlier.

COMING SOON:

The shuttered Holiday Cocktail Lounge at 75 St. Marks Place will reopen in April as a new bar and restaurant serving local foods, Grub Street reported. The venue — run by Robert Ehrlich, CEO of Pirate Brands which makes Pirate's Booty snacks — won support for its liquor license at Community Board 3 this month.

San Francisco favorite Mission Chinese Food is opening its first New York location at 154 Orchard St. this spring, the New York Times reported.  The restaurant specializes in creative but inexpensive dishes inspired by the food in northern China. Chef Danny Bowien told the Times that Mission's New York outpost would donate a portion of its proceeds to charity, just like its San Francisco counterpart.

CLOSINGS:

East Village Farms, a grocery at 100 Avenue A, closed in the first week of February, and the flower shop outside shuttered after Valentine's Day, EV Grieve reported. Workers told EV Grieve the building would be demolished, though some neighbors are hoping to save the abandoned theater on its upper floors.

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