El Vez
259 Vesey St.
(at North End Ave.)
More casual than fancy

The Mexican-restaurant tropes, high and low, are too many to count: lucha libre portraits, bulls’ horns, Dia de los Muertos dioramas, a hacienda-style wooden ceiling, cast-iron chandeliers, velvet-style Elvis paintings…. Much of it is kitsch—take the liquor-bottle light fixtures, please—and yet the effect is not remotely cheap. The lighting is perfect, the noise level isn’t oppressive, and the craftsmanship is impressive, from the carvings in the bar, to the individually weathered wooden barstools (that have a welcome bit of swivel), to a men’s room that deserves a photo spread of its own. If you know American Mexican food at all, there’s nothing on the menu you won’t recognize, except maybe the tlayudas, which are akin to pizzas; the food is better than it needs to be, while the verdict on the margaritas is still out. (You can ask for yours without agave.) Meanwhile, thoughtful touches abound: They’ll text you when your table is ready, kids are given sombreros to wear, and there’s a credit-card reader on the vintage photo booth.

El Vez dining roomEl Vez view from bar El Vez view from bar2 El Vez wall