El Centro Upgrade

I hadn't been to El Centro (the Hell's Kitchen offshoot on 54th and Ninth) since the summer, so I was pleasantly surprised earlier this week when I discovered their menu has received a little refresh.

While I was initially sad they'd seemed to remove all signs of molé (I'd wanted the pork chilaquiles, which--if I remember correctly--were in molé), I was happy to have been "forced" into another choice: the steak chilaquiles. When they arrived, rather than being in its usual little crock-like dish, it was beautifully arranged on a large plate. There was way less sauce, which made the chilaquiles wonderfully textured rather than soggy, and the steak was amazing--super rare, smokily-seared, and tasty. The flavors were so fresh and well-balanced, I didn't even have the desire to ask for extra hot sauce, which rarely happens.

With all of the new Mexican joints popping up in the neighborhood, this is one smart move by chef Jorge Pareja. I'm curious to see what else they've done.

El Centro, 824 Ninth Avenue at 54th Street.

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