The multilevel Los Feliz (“The Happy One”) in the East Village is an enchanting combination of restaurant and lounge. On the street level is the casual bar and taqueria with a pressed tin ceiling and wall drawings of Indians, angels, palm trees, and a pin-up girl. For more formal dining, open a secret door and descend to the Cobble Room, which feels a bit like the Alamo, with communal tables and pink cobblestone floors. One more level down, relax in an elegant lounge with gilded crown molding, chandeliers, antique mirrors, pink walls, and gold leather settees, which evoke the faded Colonial splendor of romance and revolution.
The seasonal Mexican menu is under the direction of award-winning Chef Julieta Ballesteros, who is also the chef and owner of Crema in the West Village. Her crema de elote con huitlacoche is a sweet cream of corn soup with sautéed black Mexican truffle, and citrus-spiced lump crab. (The corn is so fresh, it snaps in your mouth.) The queso con todo entrée is a baked cheese casserole with chicken, huitlacoche, and chorizo served with a shot of guacamole and corn tortillas. Ballesteros’ food is as delicious as it is beautiful.
Tequila tastings are popular events here and with 150 different ones to choose from, beverage director Ben Carrier can introduce you to the nuances of that liquor, such as the difference between rested and unrested tequila. Or keep it simple and try “the freshest margarita,” aptly named and made with Milagro silver, fresh lime juice, and organic raw agave mix. Dining Tuesday to Sunday from 5 pm; lounge Thursday to Saturday from 8 pm. -- Marian Betancourt