Jajaja

Checking the Hype at Jajaja

A Lot to Like at Chinatown’s Latest Veggie-Focused Mexican Spot

By Ilana Dadras ·
F5365651de73e8da96fa5ed0df6fe03b9 PhotosJajaja
Today, we’re talking Jajaja: that new plant-based (read: low-key vegan) Mexican spot down on East Broadway with much-buzzed-over vibes, convincing veggie chorizo and interesting mezcal cocktails. It’s been open for a couple weeks now, so we stopped by to see if it lives up to the hype.

The briefest of backstories—one of the owners of Gelso & Grand is involved here, so you’re allowed to have a little blind-faith in the vibes here. We certainly did. For this venture, they were going for a sort of hybrid spot that could be used for a tequila cocktail pitstop, date night or take-out tacos from the adjoining to-go window during a night out. Personally, we used it for feasting at 8pm on a Thursday.

And here’s what we found:

The Hype: It’s making that burgeoning pocket of Chinatown and its quietly hip repertoire spots burgeon more.
The Reality: For sure. It’s in good company, an actual stone’s throw from Forgtmenot, 169 Bar, Mission Chinese, and Dimes—depending on how good your arm is.

The Hype: The spot is super inviting, friendly, and unpretentious, even with that inherent hipness factor.
The Reality: Yeah. The name is laughing in Spanish, after all. But don’t expect it not to be packed; the place was buzzing pretty early on a weekday when we came through.

The Hype:
They’re completely vegan, but you might not even notice.
The Reality: True. The shiniest example of surprising vegan-ness being the faux-chorizo-laden nachos topped with tumeric queso. Order these. Or the faux-chorizo tacos in tumeric tortillas with all your normal fixings. Order these as well.

The Hype: That mysterious, nogada (walnut) sauce-drenched, pomegranate-topped, quinoa-stuffed pepper is damn good and full of hyphens.
The Reality: Good. But weird. But good. But weird.

The Hype: If you’re going to go the cocktail route, you’ve got to try their pomegranate-jalapeno option.
The Reality: True. But the cilantro-mezcal drink with coconut cream and lime is worth gracing your palate with as well. Here, have a look at the menu.

The Hype: Their focus is on the Mexican spirits.
The Reality: Clearly. They’ve got 12 mezcals, 22 tequilas and a bunch of cocktails giving special attention to one or the other.

Ilana Dadras cannot discern between situations in which sarcasm is and is not appropriate. Her favorite things include mezcal cocktails, Big Sur and writing about herself in the third person.

Elsewhere on the Daddy

More Food in New York