Different cultures have different outlooks on insects. To Americans, they have long been considered pests. The ancient Egyptians, however, saw them as sacred. In modern-day Mexico, they are what’s for dinner.
The name alone of the stylish new East Village Mexican, the Black Ant, hints that diners here dabble into the world of entomology gastronomy. Chicatana ants are mixed with salt and sprinkled in guacamole along with orange, pasilla pepper and grilled scallions ($13). And chapulines, tiny sautéed grasshoppers, add an essential extra crunch to a tlayuda (crispy tortilla) garnished with hot chile, smoky Oaxacan-style black beans and mild queso de rancho cheese ($14).
Chef Mario Hernandez hails from Cuernavaca, Mexico, and though he takes some creative liberties on the menu, his technique and flavors are steeped in tradition. Tortillas are made in-house, for example, and authentic ingredients, from the aromatic herb hoja santa to sweet chilacayote squash, grace each dish so that everything on the menu feels a bit adventurous, whether or not you choose to ingest an insect or two. Those chapulines, by the way, pair wonderfully with any of the 10 tequila or mezcal cocktails. Better yet, try them alongside a flight of three fine tequilas ($30). This Thursday just happens to be National Tequila Day.
The Black Ant
60 Second Ave.