What is it about Latin food that makes it so broadly appealing? Is it the spicy flavors, the warmth of the people preparing the food, or perhaps the cultural pride that shines through? In NYC, there are some muy bueno standouts (Mercadito on Avenue B comes to mind), but one definite success story to emerge in the past year is Yerba Buena, which has received accolades for both its food and cocktails attracting crowds on Avenue A. While other restaurants are struggling to stay open in this economy, Yerba Buena is launching a second location, Yerba Buena Perry, opening to the public tomorrow night.
Taking over the old Matador space in Greenwich Village, Yerba Buena Perry stands to be a gem in the neighborhood's cluster of Italian eateries. Chef/Partner Julian Medina (also the chef at Toloache and at Yerba Buena’s L.E.S. location) and Christopher Gilman have put together a Pan-Latin menu that includes a selection of ceviches and panko fries (including watermelon, which is succulent and crispy at once) as well as dry aged steaks.
At the media opening party earlier this week, the new restaurant had the lively feeling of a Cuban-inspired nightspot, complete with live Latin music and a professional cigar roller on premise. Avocado green walls, dim Edison bulbs, a black-and-white checkered floor, and a sleek dark wood bar all added up to "date night vibe." Behind the bar, Cervantes, previously of PDT and Little Branch, offered a handful of selections from his cocktail menu, all $12. The Pisco Mojito was a tri-colored treat. Muddled yerba buena (a species of mint) and lime were topped with crushed ice, Macchu Pisco, and bitters. Equally delicious were the Mezcal Maid (Scorpion Mezcal, muddled cucumber, lime, and yerba buena) and the Blackberry Gimlet (Tito's Vodka, muddled blackberries, and lime). The hors d'oeuvres served were, as Robert Palmer would say, simply irresistable. In addition to the watermelon fries, highlights included avocado fries, manchego cheese croquettes with pickled jalapeno salsa, and yellowtail Baja style tacos that included pineapple, red onion, habanero peppers, and some sort of magical aioli type of sauce.
Yerba Buena Perry also offers a range of piscos, tequilas, mezcals, and rums served neat, and an affordable wine list spanning Spain, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. Be sure to check out Yerba Buena Perry on your next Greenwich Village crawl!
Yerba Buena Perry is located at 1 Perry Street (212.620.0808).