Best Chef: Carlos Raba, Clavel

225 W. 23rd St., (443) 900-8983,

Clavel prides itself on its enormous mezcal collection, but whenever we visit “just for drinks,” we usually leave with bellies full of tacos—and ceviche and queso fundido and tostadas and flan. Chef and co-owner Carlos Raba is as deserving of Clavel’s accolades as founder and mezcal master Lane Harlan: In each taco (or torta or mixta or those quesadillas with that delicate, buttery, fifth-generation flour tortilla recipe and melted queso, holy god), Raba loads expertly stewed and seasoned meats and veggies, bringing out something exquisite in such a small vessel. Did we mention he also just won a national jiu jitsu competition?

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