Take a trip along the Pan-American Highway at Oficina Latina
Friday, January 18, 2013 at 02:10 PM | Jen King
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Envision yourself driving along the Pan-American Highway while the Beat Era is in full swing. As you drive down the highway, stretching from Mexico all the way to Brazil, the balmy Latin air entwined in your hair, you pull off to the side of the road to grab a bite to eat. Then you realize you’re in front of Oficina Latina on Prince Street in Nolita. With vintage décor such as antique tin plate above the bar from a 1920s bank, “trouble” lights from a mechanics garage, reclaimed hardwood floors, and recreated furnishings the atmosphere generated at Oficina Latina resembles the countless roadside eateries that scattered the highway during the 1950s.

Owned by Italian restaurateurs, Paolo Votano and Max Busato, the pair focuses their restaurant vision and menu, crafted by Mexican Chef Abraham Trinidad, by offering dinners an eclectic selection of classic regional dishes inspired by the Pan-American Highway in Latin America. The new menu, which will be centered more on tapas menu items will include the Ecuadorian dish, Pulpo a la Parrilla, a smoky, char-grilled octopus with cilantro dressing served over salad of potato and celery and Croquetas de Cangrejo, a Mexican dish of pan seared crab cakes, sautéed mushrooms and tomatoes and mixed greens. Other notable tapas dishes found on the Oficina Latina new tapas menu will include the Argentinean grilled lamb skewer, Pincho de Cordero, with tomato, onion, and apples. There is also the authentic Colombian dish, Abrebocas on the tapas menu. This includes fried blood sausage, chorizo, and mini arepitas. Don’t be afraid when you read the first sausage featured in this menu item. Blood sausage is nothing near what you’re imagination is cooking up. Up until eating at Oficina Latina, I was far from a fan of blood sausage (as I’ve only had Irish/Anglo-blood sausage) but the Colombian variation is sweet, meaty, and delicious with a dollop of crema fresca and chipotle mayo.

Owner Paolo Votano, who is also the beverage director at Oficina Latina, curates an impressive selection of 100+ tequilas and mezcals, 100+ rums, piscos, and South American beers and wine list that caters to the authenticity of the dishes and overall focus on this Nolita Pan-Latin eatery. I especially enjoyed Paolo’s Latin-inspired craft-cocktails. If you’re in the area take a stop by and enjoy Happy Hour from 4-7 p.m., Monday through Friday, with select drinks priced two for one. We suggest not passing up the Ginger Lychee Mojito served with a fresh lychee and crystallized ginger or the house-made Jalapeno-Infused Margarita with seasonal fruit.

Love doing shots of tequila where you lick your hand and suck on a lemon? Oficina Latina’s signature shot, Passion and Love, will make you completely forget such an ordinary shot. Take an orange slice smeared in sugar cane, cinnamon, and coffee grinds, down a shot of Venezuelan rum, and suck on the orange slice. Trust us, you’ll be asking your bartender to grab some coffee grinds the next time someone screams, “Shots!”

Oficina Latina is located at 24 Prince Street (between Elizabeth & Mott) New York, NY

To see Oficina Latina’s full menu, visit their website www.oficinalatinanyc.com

Tags: Daily Bites, pan latin cuisine, oficina latina, dinner, lunch, brunch, happy hour, craft cocktails, nolita, paolo votano, max busato, chef abraham trinidad