In a neighborhood with no shortage of Mexican food, Ofrenda has managed to find its own exquisite niche, offering accessible, yet upgraded fare in an earthy, casual, bar-like space with almost unparalleled hospitality for its kind.
Every once in a while, I'll think that New York will stop surprising me. I'll think that I have seen every curiosity I could possibly see, tasted every avocado in the West Village that ever existed, tried every combination of tequila, triple sec, and lime that's ever been crafted. But then I'll have guacamole that takes me home to California unlike ever before and have a server give me a complimentary shot of tequila at the end of my meal and realize all over again why this city is special. Ofrenda is a restaurant that does that for me.
Between the massive portion of creamy guacamole with scattered notes of cilantro, lime, tomato, and red onion, and the light, flaky chips that still taste like the flour and grease that made them, I knew I had found a true hit from the start.
While the guacamole is clearly a must, the Aguachile ceviche was also an elegant surprise, full of local flounder and cucumber clearly elevated with citrus and green apple juices. Although simple, far from authentic, and on an almost too-thin tortilla, the tacos are still a hit at the cozy cantina. I found that the Fish tacos with fried tilapia, jicama slaw, and creamy chipotle aioli was a great balance to my more acidic ceviche, although the raw radish garnish proved completely unnecessary and took away from the subtle spice of the aioli.
The service, though, is what truly makes Ofrenda feel like home. Ever attentive and concerned about the presentation of each dish, servers are also careful to not take away one diner's dish too early or before the rest, and thoughtfully touch base throughout the entire meal in a manner that is comforting, but never intrusive. With complimentary tequila to end my meal, Ofrenda's hospitality exceeded my always high expectations, and dare I say it, surprised me. And in a city so exhausting, a surprise like Ofrenda is something to hold onto.