Insects are the last thing you want to think about while you’re eating, but The Black Ant takes its name from Mayan mythology: legend has it that Quetzalcoatl transformed himself into one in order to find the source of maize that would feed Aztecs — and taco-loving hipsters — forever after.
That’s not to say there won’t be insects on the menu at the restaurant Jorge Guzman, owner of Ofrenda in the West Village, is opening in the East Village in mid-April. There’ll be grasshopper tlayudas and a cocktail finished with, yes, ant salt.
While Guzman creates the agave-based cocktails, his chef and partner Mario Hernandez, a former sous chef at La Esquina, is crafting a menu that will offer a wide range of seafood (yellowtail, cod, sea bass, blood clams, diver scallops, shrimp) and other proteins (chicken, duck, pig, rabbit, venison, goat).
Signature items include Tacos de Bacalao (grilled codfish cheeks, black bean purée, chile de arbol salsa, green papaya salad; $13) and Enchiladas de Conejo (pipian-braised rabbit chilacayote enchiladas, chile de arbol tortillas, spicy pepitas, pickled carrots and onions; $24). Maíz y Tierra, a vegan entree, consists of chile atole, wild mushrooms, maiz, flor de calabaza, huitlacoche dust, gusanos de maguey ($22).
All happy hour bar snacks — like epazote gruyere cheese puffs — will be $8.
Designer Welly Lai (of Avenue A’s Yerba Buena) revamped the space that formerly belong to Italian restaurant Bona Fides with lots of blonde wood, a teal accent wall, and wallpaper along the 15-seat bar that resembles a chalkboard. In the back, there’ll be a garden with seating for 40.
The Black Ant, 60 Second Ave., bet. East 3rd and 4th Sts., East Village