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El Parador Cafe

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Murray Hill
0.6 miles from Empire State Building
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Reviews (213)
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Traveler rating
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64
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All reviews guacamole enchiladas paella chicken black beans steak mexican food oldest mexican restaurant excellent mexican east river ground beef new york margaritas nyc nyu waiters booth
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Reviewed September 24, 2020

We have had some really good luck with Mexican restaurants in the neighborhood we are staying! Yesterday's was El Parador, we had steak, tinga chicken and spinach mushroom tacos and they were all delicious! The tinga was our fave but we loved them all. Chips...& salsa also quite good, tasty margaritas and our server Miguel was top notch. The couple next to us had the seafood paella and they said it's their favorite in all of NYC. Go!More

Date of visit: September 2020
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Restaurant's Favorite
Reviewed February 4, 2020 via mobile

We had an amazing dining experience at El Parador Cafe. The food was great and the staff friendly and attentive. Try the chicken with the chocolate mole sauce.

Date of visit: February 2020
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Reviewed April 2, 2020

If you want good and traditional quality Mexican cuisine and atmosphere this is THE place! Operating since 1959, you feel you are in a good restaurant in the middle of Mexico City. The bar is extremely well stocked with any type of tequila you may...prefer which you begin with before getting to the tangy Sea Bass Ceviche, the spicy Diablito Ham, a sumptuous Pork Tostada, an outstanding Wagyu Carpaccio, a juicy Milanesa and a Copoazu and Fig dessert. A fresh and dry white wine will keep good company to all of those dishes. Prices are moderate to high while service makes you feel the center of attention and well taken care of by any standard. Viva El Parador!More

Date of visit: January 2020
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Reviewed February 23, 2020

The first time I went to El Parador, I spent the evening sleeping in a woven basket under the table. In the almost eighteen years since, I have probably dined there fifty times. I used to think that going out to dinner was a synonym...for going to El Parador––it was about the only place my parents would take me, because I was always good there. Now, of course, I realize that I was good there because I felt good there. El Parador was, and is, the epitome of what going out to dinner should mean: friendly reception, great food, great atmosphere, and comfortable surroundings. I’m not really a food person, and eating usually makes me tense, but El Parador is actually relaxing––even without the margaritas my Dad swears by! Today, visiting El Parador for dinner means a relatively uncrowded (for New York) walk south down the UN plaza, past 193 empty flagpoles (flags are down for the night) and the marshy vacant lot that spans from First Avenue to the East River, to the NYU hospital complex. Turning onto 34th street welcomes you into a different world––one of bustling people eager to get where they’re going; lots of shops, and lots of apartments. The restaurant is easy to miss––an unassuming red door in a nook at the corner of a brick apartment building. I lift the heavy door and check my coat. Inside is bustling too, but in a good way: waiters looking after customers, Spanish music, colorful tiles and ceramics, candles and white tablecloths. “Hola, senorita!” Alex, the owner, and the maître d', show me to Table One, the same table I’ve sat at since my basket days. It’s a corner banquette, originally chosen so I could lie down and sleep while my parents drank sangria; later it was ideal because I could slide around and play with my Winne-the-Pooh animals in the corner, without disturbing anyone or falling off of a chair. I learned important lessons at El Parador: that Spanish was a language that people actually speak, not just something like math that you study at school; that people in different countries eat different foods, and, memorably, that candles are hot and placing your hand on top of them is a terrible idea. On my first few visits, admittedly I did not dine on menu items, but pretty soon I was taking advantage of the high chairs and developing a taste for tortilla chips and salsa. (I’m also told that the long steep staircase to the Ladies Room is where I perfected my stair climbing skills, at age one.) Early on, as soon as they saw me coming, the staff made me a special set of nachos normales, stuffed with bean paste and asiago cheese. They called it a pizza, and for years I rejected Italian pizza as an unacceptable substitute for El P’s “real” pizza. To this day, asiago is my preferred cheese. And, to this day, the waiters––many of them have been there as long as I have been going––still ask me if I want a pizza when I get there! El Parador means a lot to me today because the staff has always taken the long view. When I was a child, I did not order anything that the restaurant made money on. I caused the restaurant to give up a table for four instead of a table for two, and I made a huge mess crumbling tortilla chips everywhere to feed my toys. The virgin frozen pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris I grew to love were not expensive, but were just as much trouble for them to make as the rum drinks the restaurant could charge $15 for. Yet they positively welcomed me, every time. Now, they have a customer for life. I remember once, when I was about five, we sat down at Table One and I got out my animals and started playing quietly while I ate my pizza. At the table next to us was tense lady who glared at me and summoned Alex in an agitated way. She pointed at me and said “There is a child here. I don’t like children. I don’t want her to sit here.” Alex smiled at her and said “This young lady is one of our best customers.” The lady left. We didn’t. Another time, most unusually, we walked to the restaurant without calling ahead, and when we entered we found a private party in progress and a sign saying “Closed.” Alex apologized profusely and we left. The maitre d’ caught up with us when we were a few yards down the block. “I have a table for you.” The staff had set a table in a little basement room, away from the noise of the party, and for the next two hours, despite the demands of a large group in the main dining room, we were waited on with consummate professionalism. Walking in to El Parador is like being wrapped in a cocoon of happiness. I mentioned before that I am not a food person, and I think I surprised even myself, recently, when I had no homework one night and wanted to do something with my family. Before I knew it, I had texted: “Do you want to meet me at El Parador for dinner?” It was the perfect way to celebrate. El Parador has been in business for sixty years. Many of the banquettes, like the one I still always try to get, have little plaques from grateful customers recognizing birthdays, anniversaries, and other life events celebrated there over the decades. I can’t wait to put up my own plaque, one day. El Parador may not have any Michelin stars, but it’s a better restaurant than any of the fancier ones I’ve been to. They are always welcoming, their food is always good, and they know how to start early to get satisfied customers!More

Date of visit: November 2019
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Reviewed January 19, 2020

Very friendly staff and good service. The food was fantastic. Good prices and a decent range of drinks.

Date of visit: January 2020
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Reviewed October 8, 2019 via mobile

Been coming twice a year for decades. Always terrific and authentic. Nice booths. Funny locale. Taco chips are warm. Salsa supreme.

Date of visit: October 2019
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Reviewed September 24, 2019 via mobile

My wife and I visited El Parador for dinner tonight. I had the Pork Chop while my wife had the Black Bean and Spinach Enchilada. All the food was very tasty and no complaints at all. The service was very good which added to what...was a great night out in NYC. I would definitely recommend El Parador if you're looking for some Mexican food to eat.More

Date of visit: September 2019
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Reviewed September 17, 2019

Let me preface this with the fact that I'm married to a man whose family is from Mexico and we tend to visit Mexico often. Why do I mention that? Because we're very picky about Mexican food since we have the real thing all the...time. So let me start with the drinks. I had sangria and it was terrific! It went right to my legs as great sangria usually does. My friend had another drink which she loved. Very potent. The food.... we started with guacamole which was very very good. We also started with the lobster ceviche, which was also terrific. Then we ordered the enchiladas. Not so great. Very Americanized, filled with ground beef. They honestly didn't have much taste even with the different sauces on top. As we sat there the place got really busy and the bar became incredibly crowded. Everybody seemed to be having a great time. So I'd go back for the guac and the drinks. Nice atmosphere as well!More

Date of visit: September 2019
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Reviewed August 17, 2019 via mobile

First time this week in this restaurant. Food was great and the service very nice. From the guacamole to the paella or enchiladas , everything was very good . Love the traditional decor. We liked it so much we bought the restaurant teeshirt !! Only...regret , they don’t bottle their salsa so we could not bring any home . :-(More

Date of visit: August 2019
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Reviewed July 1, 2019 via mobile

New York’s oldest Mexican restaurant that lives up to its quality. Lovely staff and amazing quality food. Definitely worth going to if you love Mexican.

Date of visit: July 2019
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AndreaM2011
November 21, 2015|
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Response from Matthew C | Reviewed this property |
Hello, although I have visited El Parador during the holiday season, I am not aware of a holiday schedule. I would suggest reservations, and I can assure you, if you like great authentic Mexican Food, you will enjoy El... More
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