CASA TuLuM, from Managing Partner Luis Villanueva and Chef/Partner Rodrigo Abrajan (El Paso NYC), is a Mexican restaurant designed to elicit the feel of a luxurious Tulum beach house. Set to open in the South Street Seaport on December 14th, the menu will focus on the best seafood dishes from across Mexico with heavy emphasis on the Seafood Bar, tacos, and authentic signature dishes from Tulum and the Yucatan Peninsula.
CASA TuLuM is the downtown debut for Chef Rodrigo, who achieved neighborhood acclaim in Harlem with his El Paso Taqueria restaurants. The first opened in 1993 as a taco cart on the corner of Third Avenue and East 104th Street in East Harlem, eventually growing to three sit-down locations. After 30 years as a staple in El Barrio’s food scene, he is bringing his authentic and flavorful cuisine to a new audience with updated presentations to match the new location. For CASA TuLuM, Chef Rodrigo has created a concise menu marrying the cuisine of Tulum and Mexico’s coastal cities with the history of the seaport. Originally from Puebla, he has traveled the country learning and perfecting his recipes to create truly authentic Mexican cuisine.
Neatly divided into three sections, the menu begins with a Seafood Bar, featuring: Aguachile Tulum, made with raw and cooked shrimp, octopus, cherry stone clams, fresh lime juice, a blend of seven fresh and dry chili peppers, red onions, cucumbers, and avocado; Lobster Ceviche, Maine Lobster citrus cured with passion fruit, lychee, and mango, arbol chili, and pomegranate seeds, served with baked multigrain tostadas; and Oyster Vibes, six broiled Blue Point Oysters with guajillo-achiote, butter, and sour orange in the style of the chic Nayarit Rivera.
The Taqueria section follows, displaying updated versions of the very food that gave Chef Rodrigo his start in New York, including Baja Fish, tempura white fish of the day with cabbage, avocado, Pico de Gallo, and habanero aioli; Governador, shrimp and steak with gratinated chihuahua cheese and chiltepin-tomato salsa in a hand pressed tortilla; and classic Al Pastor, achiote marinated pork with roasted pineapple, pickled onion, fresh cilantro, and guajillo salsa.
Platos Fuertes, or main dishes, highlight: Cochinita Pibil, a specialty of the Yucatan Peninsula consisting of pork shoulder slow roasted in banana leaves with achiote paste, cured lime, onion, habanero chili tetemado and flour tortillas; Pez Zarandeado, broiled butterflied whole branzino with annatto-guajillo butter and sour orange; and Pollo Borracho, pan-seared semi-boneless half chicken in a Negra Modelo butter reduction with cremini mushrooms.
The menu also features house made guacamole for the table in two options: King Guacamole made of avocado, jicama, red onions, and habanero peppers topped with crab meet; and Guacamole, avocado, onion, cilantro, tomato, serrano chilies, and totopos, a flat triangular chip similar to a tortilla.
The Beverage Program was designed by Luis Villanueva, who previously designed the cocktail menus at Havana Alma de Cuba, Cuba, La Pulperia, and worked at Astoria’s Blend on the Water for three years. His cocktails are inspired by the natural beauty found all along the Mexican coastline, expressed through seasonal ingredients and spices to pair with Chef Rodrigo’s cuisine. Cocktail highlights include: El Chingon; silver tequila, tamarind, serrano peppers, agave nectar, chipotle and habanero sea salt; Oaxacan Negroni, Mezcal Joven, Antica Formula Vermouth, Campari, and tangerine oils; and The Gold Digger, Clase Azul Añejo Tequila, Grand Mariner Cuvee Louis Alexandre, yuzu, organic blue agave nectar, 24 karat edible gold, and hickory campfire sea salt served in a souvenir glass.
The restaurant’s interior resembles a Tulum beach resort, featuring notes of earth tones of white and beige accented by live plants hanging above the bar and throughout the space creating a serene, tropical feel. Chocolate-colored leather chairs and banquets designed for comfort and aesthetic complement the natural wood tones in the tables and throughout the restaurant. At the center is a large cocktail bar, and ample seating throughout the space creates the ideal environment to enjoy Chef Rodrigo’s authentic Mexican cuisine.
CASA TuLuM is located at 229 Front Street, New York, NY 10038 and is open Monday – Thursday: 4pm-11pm, Friday – Saturday: 4pm-12am and Sunday: 4pm-10pm. CASA TuLuM seats 55 in the Dining Room and 15 in the Bar.
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