In Manhattan’s Chelsea, a newly reopened Mesoamerican spot is making a splash with modern takes on Ecuadorian-inspired home cooking.
In Chelsea, among the art galleries, designer flagships, and warehouses-turned-nightclubs, The Selina Hotel holds a secret gem: HOWM Cocina & Cocktails, which reopened this September after the pandemic. At HOWM, you’ll find a Mesoamerican-inspired menu with food and drink to die for, live music most nights, and a private back garden. What’s more, the menu is mostly vegetarian, great for flexitarians and large parties with mixed restrictions. And if you really want to feel “at HOWM,” consider extending your evening with a stay at The Selina, whose clean, minimalist rooms, rooftop bar, and around-the-clock programming make for a rejuvenating vacation (or staycation).
The Selina is a global hotel group, but they’ve made every effort to set apart each location with local flair. To do this, they hire local chefs to craft a menu that’s personal, and create programming that’s complimentary to the neighborhood. The Selina Chelsea offers wellness classes, game nights, walking tours, and upcoming Holiday Farmers Market tours — all available to reserve via the Selina App.
Chef Byron Peñafiel is the creator behind HOWM’s menu, inspired by his grandmother’s cooking from Ecuador. Alejandro Arana, Property Manager, tells me that Peñafiel spent some time as a vegetarian in his early years, which explains the huge assortment of vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. Dinner begins with a plate of fresh fried patacones (plantains) served with a sweet and spicy mango salsa. The menu is divided into small and large plates, which are perfect for sharing tapas-style. Between two (hungry) people, three small plates and one large plate (plus the starter patacones and a complimentary side of yuca fries) were more than enough to share. The main course, a whole chili-roasted head of cauliflower served in a smooth cauliflower purée, was an impressive end to the meal. The cocktails are another highlight — try the Fresas with freshly muddled strawberries.
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Brunch the next morning at HOWM was another hit. We split a pot of rich overnight oats with fresh berries, plus the avocado toast with pickled red onion, radish, and chili oil. As a millennial, I know a thing or two about avocado toast. Let me just say: this was easily the best I’ve ever had.
The Selina is pet-friendly and centrally located to all the best Chelsea has to offer. Spend the morning appreciating fine art at the Paula Cooper Gallery or Gagosian, followed by a scenic walk on the High Line and some shopping at Hudson Yards. To round out the night, don’t miss live music in the Selina lobby for dinner.