Looking to bring his take on “modern Mexican food and a tequila [bar],” to the residents of Armonk, Mike Guerra opened Casa Tequila Cocina & Bar at the tail-end of 2019. “I always loved tequila and Mexican food,” say the Guatemalan-born Guerra, who comes from a family of restauranteurs. (His father tried to dissuade his from going into the business.)
Prior to opening Casa Tequila, Guerra was co-owner of Croton-on-Hudson’s Yuka’s Latin Fusion, which focuses on the cuisines of South America.
While looking to shift gears, Guerra came across the Armonk location, which had formerly housed Inka’s Seafood Grill. “In researching the area I saw how many great restaurants are in town,” he says. “The residents dine out in Manhattan and are looking to duplicate those experiences [at home].”
Setting the atmosphere are stunning murals from Westchester artist William F. Panama, depicting iconic Mexican imagery, such as a woman dressed in a Day of the Dead mask and a portrait of Frida Kahlo. Candles on the tables, placed in empty liquor bottles, also add to the look. On the main level, there is the bar and seating for approximately 50 patrons. The upstairs, a more low-key space seats 55, with Panama’s murals of horses displayed under a vaulted ceiling. Look for patio dining, as well, come the summer.
More than 150 tequilas and mezcals are found at the bar, some in bottles that could double as artwork. Cocktails include a traditional margarita and the excellent Lobos in the Garden, with mezcal, ancho verde, kiwi, and fresh lime juice. “People in Armonk know their tequila,” says Guerra, whose personal favorites include Clase Azul tequila and Ilegal mezcal.
The food at Casa Tequila takes traditional Mexican dishes and gives them a flavorful twist, with a focus on high-quality ingredients and presentation. (You could dine on appetizers and salads alone and be very happy.) We started with delicious guacamole and chips, a Mexican-inspired coconut shrimp with chipotle and honey-Dijon (a special), and the standout tostadas de jaiba — jumbo lump blue crab meat served atop tostadas, with chipotle cream, avocado purée, serrano, and cilantro.
For entrées, slow-braised short rib tacos, served with a small cup of consommé for dipping — think a Mexican version of a French dip — were next-level. “You usually won’t find short ribs in tacos because of the amount of time it takes to cook and shred the beef,” explains Guerra. “Those are the kinds of dishes we want our kitchen to be known for.” For dessert, dulce de leche churros with chocolate sauce hit all the right notes.
Brunch will be rolled out later this month, with Mexican dishes such as huevos rancheros and chilaquiles, in addition to eggs Benedict and French toast.
465 Main St
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