La Palapa
77 St. Marks Place | 212-777-2537
Barbara Sibley, the chef-owner at this friendly East Village oasis grew up in Mexico, under the culinary spell of cookbook author and avid gardener Diana Kennedy. That might account for the menu's reliance on fresh herbs, and its creativity. Rices are flavored with tomato, saffron, and tomatillo; moles, concocted from sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and guajillo chiles. The skirt steak soaks up its tequila marinade, cactus comes in a casserole, and chiles rellenos float in tomato broth.