Chinatown Surprise

To Chinatown for Mexican

Asking where to go for Mexican food in New York often culminates with a recommendation for a plane ticket to Los Angeles.

Now there's a new answer: Head to Chinatown.

Brother-sister duo Christopher and Heather Tierney have just opened Pulqueria on the same catawampus street as the pair's cocktail haven, Apotheke. Intrepidness breeds delight: To find Pulqueria, descend the bunker-like steps to the left of Nom Wah Tea Parlor.

Push on the unmarked door, and beeline for the house specialty, pulque. Made from fermented agave nectar, the milk-colored spirit ($6) is smooth but deceptively boozy. Try it infused in a curado ($12) of jicama and lime.

Move to the dining room to order superb regional specialties from Mexico City-born chef Nacxitl Gaxiola, late of the legendary La Superior.

Gaxiola's gorditas ($10) live up to their name, with fat masa bellies stuffed full of sauteed potatoes and chorizo. Dipping into Gaxiola's tower of salsas ($9), we topped everything from cactus salad ($11) to slow-roasted cochinita pibil tacos (two for $11). Our favorite salsa: a deliciously rough chipotle-peanut paste.

In the coming weeks, the menu will expand further. We'll be back for more of Gaxiola's cooking and for a blissfully dangerous, one-liter barrel of curados de pulque ($54).

Pulqueria, 11 Doyers St. (between Pell St. and the Bowery); 212-227-3099 or pulquerianyc.com