LOWER MANHATTAN — As pieces of the East River Waterfront Esplanade continue to fall into place, the area around Pier 15 received its most recent injection of cultural fare.
Oaxaca Express, a pop-up taco stand, opened July 3 at 70 South St. between Fletcher and Maiden lanes, featuring soft shell tacos served with a choice of three sauces, along with other south-of-the-border staples such as tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole.
The fast-casual Mexican stand, which sits amid a river-facing patio offering seating for 150, also operates as a full-service bar and will open daily for lunch and dinner through the fall, according to owner Abraham Merchant, co-owner of Merchants Hospitality.
“It’s a great location, this close to the water,” Merchant said Friday, describing its view of what he calls the BMW — the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges — as surreal.
The esplanade was hit hard by the storm, but it’s developing again, Merchant said, and becoming an area full of diverse attractions.
“This area has always been busy, but it’s becoming a neighborhood of its own,” he said.
This is Oaxaca’s second pop-up location. Aside from its brick-and-mortar restaurant on East 47th Street, it operates an Oaxaca Express stand at the World Financial Center in Battery Park City as well, Merchant said.
The kiosk will remain temporarily at 70 South St. until the fall, when Merchant expects to open a new location of his nouveau American restaurant, the Merchant’s River House, which already has a location in Battery Park, he said. Dinner entrees on the current River House menu include flat iron steak, North Atlantic Salmon and goat cheese ravioli and are priced between $17 and $23.
The location, which has secured its liquor license, had been slated to open earlier, but was delayed by Sandy, Merchant said.
Merchants Hospitality has four restaurants and outposts open or in the works on or near Pier 15’s Maiden Lane Pavilion.
Its new Watermark Bar opened for business in a glass-front venue overlooking the water on Memorial Day weekend, Merchant said. There, diners can find a variety of hot dogs, hamburgers and a few seafood dishes. Only its lobster roll tops $15.
And last week, it opened Cones Café, which carries 12 flavors of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, in the glass-enclosed space next door to Watermark Bar.
Watermark was initially slated to open in November 2012, but was delayed after Hurricane Sandy hit, Merchant said.