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Booze-Fueled Mexican Street Food Spot Opens on Upper West Side

By Emily Frost | March 17, 2014 6:55pm
 Orale will replace Cafe Frida and Savoury will replace a Lenny's Sub Shop. 
Orale and Savoury Opening on UWS
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A new Mexican restaurant aimed at a young, boozy crowd opened Monday night on Amsterdam Avenue, replacing the more upscale Café Frida.

Orale Mexican Kitchen will serve "fun Mexican street food" along with dozens of specialty cocktails, including an all-you-can-drink weekend brunch, said co-owner Alex Mendelsohn. He partnered with restaurateur Louis Alvarez to open Orale's second location, on Amsterdam Avenue at West 97th Street, after debuting the first together in Jersey City last April.

"We are a little bit playful," Mendelsohn said of Orale's approach to food, which includes a Mexican take on macaroni and cheese called "the Gringo" and a massive taco called "the Machine" that includes pork belly, roasted bone marrow and cabbage.

The Beyond Restaurants Group owns both Orale and Cafe Frida, which has another neighborhood location on Columbus Avenue at West 77th Street.

"We wanted to put in a younger and a bit more hip restaurant for the growing area, especially being near Columbia. We wanted to hone in on that," Mendelsohn explained.

To lure in students and young groups, Orale will offer a two-hour, $20 all-you-can-drink session for weekend brunches beginning in about two weeks, he said. Happy hour will feature $5 frozen margaritas and sangria, as well as $3 beers, he added. 

There's a heavy focus on drinks, with a long list of cocktails and an entire section of classic American cocktails like the Old Fashioned and the Sazerac served with tequila. 

On weekends, the outdoor patio will feature a keg of beer as part of the all-you-can-drink deal, running from 11:30 a.m. up until dinnertime, Mendelsohn said.

Murals of graffiti art and a wall of colorful Mexican sodas contribute to the youthful, fun atmosphere, he added.  

The restaurant seats 60 people inside and 30 on the backyard patio, with lunch service starting in about a month. 

Other Openings in the Neighborhood:

The father-son duo behind the Amsterdam Avenue Indian restaurant Swagat are opening a fancier offshoot of their eatery this week on Columbus Avenue at West 83rd Street.

Savoury, which seats 75 people, is aiming to attract groups for dinner, said Avishek Sharma, 26, who will manage the restaurant with his father Lala Sharma, 49, who will oversee the kitchen. 

And while Swagat has a more traditional sensibility, with its emphasis on curries, Savoury has a broader range of dishes from across India featuring an array of fish and meat dishes, Avishek Sharma said. 

The Sharmas' goal is to make their food flavorful and enjoyable, but also healthy, he added. 

"People have this perception that Indian food is greasy," he said. "We're trying to change that." 

The restaurant, which used to be a Lenny's Sub Shop, has a narrow front leading to a larger space at the back that Avishek Sharma hopes will work in their favor.

Like Swagat, he wants Savoury to feel warm and inviting for families, but also entice the handful of celebrities living nearby who frequent Swagat.

Savoury will open its doors Friday, serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.