Designing Delicious

Cosme's Special Recipe: Mexican Coke Carnitas, New-Wave Cosmos, and Disco Balls

Chef Enrique Olvera single handedly saved New York City's Mexican food scene from the abyss when he debuted Cosme in 2014. Nearly a decade later, it's still one of Manhattan's hottest tables.

“A Mexican restaurant should be high-energy. When you think of Mexico, you think about partying,” says Enrique Olvera, founder of Cosme. A household name for the culinary crowd, Olvera is best known for redefining Mexican cuisine at Pujol, a longtime resident of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. His first foray into the New York dining scene, Cosme melds the city’s penchant for a particular brand of understated chic and the liveliness expected of a Mexican cantina.

At Cosme, contemporary Mexican fare takes on new cultural influences. Fluke aquachile is topped with thinly sliced radishes and cucumber and dusted with grated wasabi; sweet potato tamal is flavored with guajillo chilis and Japanese togarashi. Rohan ducks are cured for three days, seared to golden brown, and braised with Mexican Coke and ancho chili pepper to create Cosme’s signature carnitas. The cornhusk meringue, an Instagram darling, combines savory corn mousse and burnt vanilla ice cream topped with sea salt and pulverized corn husk. The menu is bolstered by an agave-forward beverage program from Jorsand Diaz that hews traditional with palomas and margaritas, though some cocktails play with global ingredients like yuzu and Calpico.

The space, designed by Mexico City–based architect Alonso de Garay, embodies the same philosophy as the food: simple, elegant, and clean. Soft beams of light directed at each table illuminate the dimly lit dining room, where the wine list are curated to ensure the labels complement the dishes. Despite the carefully crafted experience, this meticulous culinary temple isn’t afraid to let its hair down. “We keep the energy up at the restaurant,” says Olvera. “On the weekends, the music level is high, the noise level is high.” The public agrees, flocking to Flatiron en masse to vy for coveted tables under the discretely placed disco ball and sip on Cosmepolitans, a chili-infused homage to an iconic New York cocktail. From the master of reinvention, we’d expect nothing less.

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