2018-05-16 / Restaurant of the Week


Lunera is a delightful, modern Mexican restaurant with a Spanish twist and a cool vibe. You won’t find re-fried beans here…all the inventive recipes are made on the spot using the finest ingredients, cuts of meat, fish, vegetables, and more. The rustic interior features a back-lit bar, well-stocked with a variety of high quality tequila and other spirits that go into their soothing cocktails. Leather and wood banquettes line the dining room and create a comfortable space for intimate dining or group dining. In fact, Lunera is a great place to celebrate a birthday with friends. I love the décor with masks of South American gods inset into niches in the walls below the wood beam ceiling.

Lunera opened on Cinco de Mayo last year and is super-conveniently located just outside the R and M trains at the Steinway Street stop. Drop in for “Happy Days” from 4-7pm where you can get $6 margaritas and other drink specials. While you’re there, you must sample some of their tempting starters such as the shrimp tacos, delicately seasoned with spices and herbs and topped with fresh lime and cilantro, served three to an order ($12). The skirt steak, carnitas, or veggie tacos go down easy with a frosty margarita. The house margarita is the classic version, while the Lunera margarita is flavored with fresh strawberries, basil leaves and fine silver tequila. Mojitos come with fresh fruit flavors or traditional style, and the blackberry bourbon smash packs a fruity punch. Lunera features “Happy Moons” from 9pm to 1am with more drink specials and snacks.

Lunera’s guacamole is fresh and delicious, made right at your table by Diana, the lovely server. After Lunera’s excellent tacos, we devoured the crab cake piña which is a beautifully presented, delicately pan-fried crab cake full of sweet crab meat, resting upon a slab of caramelized pineapple with chipotle aioli balsamic vinegar glaze. The combination of savory, sweet, and acidic flavors is simply intoxicating. Bravo to pulpo bravo, a platter of grilled octopus with paprika and mini, spicy potatoes, perfect for sharing ($14). Croquetas de jamon Serrano are golden morsels of Spanish ham and cheese in a crispy croquette, which you should order with your Happy Hour drinks.

There are a dozen carefully curated entrées on Lunera’s menu covering options in meat, poultry, and seafood. There’s even classic, Spanish style paella loaded with fresh shrimp, mussels, clams, and octopus cooked in a mound of saffron-scented rice. Pan seared wild salmon is perfectly cooked, then served with quinoa enchiladas, avocado and tomatillo sauce ($20). Seabass fillet is prepared with Romesco sauce and jalapeño hummus. Red snapper is another popular fish dish, topped with Veracruz sauce, served with rice. All the dishes have fresh, clean flavors without heaviness, and are presented with pride.

Lunera has several meat entrees, including grilled hangar steak and grilled skirt steak called churrasco, nicely presented with yuca fries, arugula salad, and fragrant chimichurri sauce. After having eaten so many scrumptious appetizers, we decided to share the skirt steak and enjoyed every bite. The mini lamb chops are so tender, and the juicy pork shank comes with mashed potatoes and mushroom mole. There’s even a simple chicken breast Veracruz with a delicious sauce if you prefer ($17).

Owner Rossa Quinn and Alejandro Angel, the kind manager, welcome you to weekend brunch, served Saturday and Sunday from 12-4 for just $15, or $35 for a 2-hour bottomless brunch. Enjoy avocado toast and eggs, poached eggs with chipotle hollandaise sauce, huevos rancheros, or quinoa salad, to name a few. The cool, relaxed vibe is the perfect way to start your weekend.

Save room for buñuelos which are light pastry balls filled miraculously with liquid chocolate, accompanied by vanilla ice cream. Traditional tres leches cake is made with three kinds of milk, while the flan is cool and creamy.

Don’t wait until the 5th of May to visit Lunera Modern Mexican Restaurant Bar because it’s right on Steinway Street, and just outside the train station. Check out their website for gorgeous photos of their mouthwatering food and then come see and taste for yourself. Lunera is like a breath of fresh air on Steinway Street, perfect for dates, friends, small groups, and fun!

32-25 Steinway Street, Astoria

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