New Mexican Restaurant, Tacuba, to Open on 36th St.

Residents of Astoria can get excited about adding a little spice to their life come Sept. 16 with the grand opening of Tacuba, a new Mexican restaurant on 36th St.

Tacuba, a new Mexican restaurant, will open on 36th St. later this month.

Tacuba, a new Mexican restaurant, will open on 36th St. later this month.

Chef and owner Julian Medina and his partner Louis Skibar already own six successful Mexican and Latin-inspired restaurants in Manhattan. Tacuba will be their first outer-borough venture, and Medina says he is excited about the location.

“I think Astoria is an up-and-coming neighborhood, but it’s not exploded yet, like DUMBO or Williamsburg,” he said. “I think people in Astoria appreciate food and also there are not a lot of Mexican restaurants that offer drinks and full service.”

The restaurant will open in time for Mexico’s Independence Day, and with a menu of inventive cocktails (liquor-filled pineapple for two, anyone?) and food ranging from seafood platters to tacos, the celebration is sure to be a smash hit.

Medina explains that the inspiration for the look and feel of Tacuba is a Mexican cantina. Decorated with custom-made Mexican lanterns, lights strung overhead, reclaimed wood and spacious booths, Medina describes the vibe as “very laid back.”

“It’s fun, with a lot of Mexican lanterns and a Mexican feel, but a very relaxed environment,” he said.

The cantina concept, one that Medina says he is “very excited” about, separates Tacuba from Medina and Skibar’s other restaurants, like upscale Toloache on W. 50th or Latin diner Cappelia on W. 14th.

One thing that will be no different from their other restaurants will be the quality of the food. Tacuba will offer tableside-made guacamole, four types of empanadas and traditional carnitas, as well as less common dishes like octopus and chorizo surf and turf or veggie tacos with zucchini, sweet corn, hibiscus flowers and pickled jalapenos.

And for the nights when you really want to let loose, Tacuba’s relaxed atmosphere will get more festive with its elaborate cocktails, DJ music or live mariachi bands. Medina is particularly excited for Tacuba’s signature cocktails, which will come served in a pineapple, watermelon or coconut.

For Medina, the hope is that the restaurant will become a local favorite in Astoria, as well as a destination restaurant for greater Queens.

“I’m very excited to go to Astoria, that we are opening in Queens and that not only people in the neighborhood can come but people from all over Queens,” Medina said.

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