Orale Contemporary Mexican Kitchen is making waves on W. 25th Street with news that it will expand into the adjacent space and add a bar and liquor license.
"Everybody on the street has a bar," says chef and owner Roberto Rodriguez. "We need to be able to compete and complement with the rest of the street. Unfortunately at times, since we don't have margaritas, customers just leave."
Rodriguez opened his popular Mexican foods stand Orale at the West Side Market back in 1999. "When I opened Orale, I wanted to show people about the true Mexican culture, which goes way beyond sombreros, mariachis and food that do not reflect the flavors of Mexico," say the chef.
Orale's success is grounded in Rodriquez's commitment to using only the freshest ingredients. In fact, the chef receives no food deliveries, instead shopping personally at the market and elsewhere for everything he needs.
Building on that reputation, Rodriguez transformed his Ohio City production kitchen into a full-service restaurant two years ago. Since he did so, he watched as the street developed into a full blown entertainment district, forcing him to adapt along with it.
Work is already underway in the adjacent space, which recently housed a vegan bakery. A bar has been built and a new bathroom has been installed. Nearly all that's left to do is bust down the wall in between. When completed, the new space will almost double Orale's interior capacity along with its patio.
Rodriguez says that diners can look forward to fun, casual and approachable Mexican snack foods — the kind of food that goes great with cocktails. "We will offer a bar menu featuring items like empanadas, quesadillas, salsa, and tortas," he notes.
Orale's tequila-inspired menu will feature high quality, unique selections. "Our goal is to offer a large variety of really rare tequilas, fresh margaritas, and authentic Mexican beers," says GM Ann. M. Madansky. "There is no place on West 25th to get really great margaritas, and what is Mexican food without a margarita? We think it is what this restaurant and the street exactly needed."
Rodriquez is hopeful that the tequila will begin flowing within six weeks, but he's also cautious. "When you start breaking walls, things happen," he says.