Tequila-Soaked Sweets Spice Up Mexican Restaurant's Menu
KIPS BAY — The Mexican restaurant Teqa is spicing up its desserts — with a shot of tequila.
The Kips Bay eatery recently hired a new chef, Steve Cruz, who is dipping into the restaurant's collection of more than 100 types of tequila to add a modern kick to classic Mexican sweets.
One of the highlights is a reimagined tres leches, which features the traditional rum-infused cake but is now garnished with a whipped cream made with cinnamon-flavored Jose Cuervo.
“I thought, since we carry over 100 types of tequila, why not use tequila in every dessert?” said Cruz, whose family is from Colombia and Ecuador. “Growing up, my grandmother used to make these all the time.”
Other new treats include churros served with espresso tequila chocolate sauce; a Spanish version of creme brulee called chocolate crema Catalana, served with espresso tequila whipped cream; and alfajores, Mexican shortbread cookie sandwiches made with espresso tequila.
Cruz joined Teqa last month and launched its new menu on Friday. On the savory side, additions include a hamburger topped with a yellow pepper aioli and sriracha ketchup. The restaurant now makes all its corn tortillas in-house.
Entrees range from $21 to $28, and desserts cost $5 to $8.
The restaurant at 443 Third Ave. near East 31st Street opened almost three years ago with chef Lisa Schoen, who once worked as Derek Jeter's personal chef, at the helm.
But original owner Derek Axelrod — who also managed product placement at his family's clothing company, French Connection — sold the spot about a year ago to Sokol Enzo. Enzo hired Cruz to upgrade the menu in the hopes of drawing a young professional crowd, Cruz said.
Cruz immediately began introducing new dishes, like seven-hour braised short ribs and pan-roasted chicken, through daily specials. Now, the best of those items have been incorporated into the overhauled menu.
“When we put the chocolate crema Catalana on the menu as a daily special a few weeks ago, they sold out almost immediately,” Cruz said. “So, we added it to the menu for good.”