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A New Colombian Restaurant on Lex

Calming jazz music, dim lighting, blue velvet seats, and paintings and decorations of blue and gold birds and feathers greet you upon entry to María Mulata.

Despite the music, decor and name, María Mulata is neither a jazz club nor a bird sanctuary (though the latter is not so far-fetched given our recent article on bird migration in the city). Rather, it is a Colombian restaurant at 1007 Lexington Avenue (between 72nd and 73rd streets) which will have its grand opening on Monday, January 22. The restaurant had its soft opening this week.

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María Mulata is owned by Diana Carillo, who was born and raised in Cartagena, Colombia. For the past fourteen years, she has owned and operated another Colombian restaurant called Chicken Coop in Valley Stream, Long Island. While the vibe of Chicken Coop is one of long wooden tables, tiled floors and loud dance music, María Mulata’s ambiance, size, and menu offerings convey a quieter, higher-end atmosphere.

A couple of years ago, Carillo was dining at a nearby steakhouse on the Upper East Side and noticed that there wasn’t much Colombian influence in the neighborhood. She was therefore motivated to bring a bit of Colombian flavor and culture to the Upper East Side, specifically that of her native Cartagena. The restaurant is named for the bright blue bird with iridescent black feathers and golden eyes, which is the official bird of Cartagena. The bird’s appearance inspired the aesthetic of the restaurant.

The menu features a range of wines by the glass and the bottle, from a $10 glass of Villa Jolanda Moscato to a $445 bottle of Louis Roderer Cristal champagne. Appetizers include a trio of chicken, beef, and cheese empanadas ($12) and guac and tubes ($20), which is a house-made guacamole served with thinly sliced, crispy potato and green plantain chips.

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Main course menu items range from $20 to $55 and include Grilled Salmon with Cilantro Sauce ($40); Garlic Prawns ($35); Northern Red Snapper ($55); and Entraña ($55), which is a grilled skirt steak with homemade chimichurri sauce and thinly sliced potatoes.

Desserts ($16) include a cheese and guava mousse and mango and passion fruit ice cream. Side dishes, which include beans, rice, mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables, range from $10 to $14.

As of this week, María Mulata’s menu is finalized, but given that the restaurant is still in its soft opening phase, some of the menu items were not available when we dined there on Friday. For example, the Colombian tamales, corn souffle, and burgers and sandwiches were not available, and they were out of the Clos Amador Rose. Also, the tap water tasted off. Nonetheless, the taste, portions and friendly service made for a pleasant dining experience.


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  1. robert boehning January 23, 2024

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