When I first moved to NY from Utah, I was surprised that I couldn't find many mexican restaurants. If I wanted Indian, Chinese, Thai, or even Ethiopian food, there were plenty around. I had discovered The Alamo restaurant on the east side -- great Tex-Mex food -- which is now closed, and another place, America (also closed) which had a great Navajo Taco on the menu.
Fast forward 25 years and several chain restaurants (think Chipotle or Baja) and you almost can't get away from rice, beans and tortillas. So I was a little hesitant to try out the Lime Jungle restaurants that popped up on 9th avenue. But it's hard to say "no" sometimes to a 12-year old, and when that same child wants to eat something other than a burger and french fries or a slice of pizza, I actually want to encourage that behavior.
All the stars aligned one night -- school had just ended, Kate was away (she's not a big fan of mexican) and I was able to get off work while it was still light outside -- so I met Glen and Dash at Lime Jungle. (There are two of them on 9th Avenue, and we went to the larger restaurant on 50th, rather than the hole-in-the-wall on 53rd.)
The service wasn't great -- not so much the fault of our waitress, but the fact that the place was packed and there was not enough staff to handle all the tables -- but the food was fresh, refreshing, and even a little surprising.
The must-have item on the menu is the nachos. No, you won't get a gigantic bowl of chips smothered with chili, cheese and sour cream. What you WILl get is a tostado cut into four pieces, and topped with flavorful beans, sauce and cheese. It's the perfect appetizer -- just enough kick to whet your appetite, and not so much food to fill you up before the main course.
If you're a little more daring, the Hell's Kitchen Jalapeños (sometimes called Jalapeño poppers) are a great lead in!
I highly recommend one of the sizzling fajita dishes. I love the peppers and onions and chicken or steak. And I like I can turn it into a salad with a bed of lettuce, or roll it into a tortilla (you can substitute whole wheat if you'd like.)
Other great items on the menu include some yummy mole dishes and an assortment of empanadas.
Drinks are also fun -- they have a very tart lemonade, and also serve some mexican sodas (I think that's partly why Dash likes it!)
We didn't try the desserts -- we'll have to hit that on the next round!
One surprisingly fun thing -- there is a dressing and salsa bar, so you can pick out your own toppings and flavors. Try them all and pick your own favorites!