Mexican food is rarely considered to be at the same level as say French or Gastropub experiences. I don't think it has anything to do with racism, but, rather with the type of food normally associated with the cuisine - comfort, down-to-earth, even peasant like and served in tacquerias, bodega and such. Chipotle came in and tried to make it cooler but all still stayed within the $10 range. In our minds, therefore, it has firmly been marked as cheap and abundant value!
Until recently, I was also of a similar opinion. Sure, there have been a few places that make that comfort food a casual dining sit down restaurant experience but few were able to capture the spirit and essence of the food and bring it to plate in a nuanced way. While the native cuisine itself may not be upscale, the flavors, ingredients can certainly be applied to mordernist cuisine and classy twists.
That is exactly what I experienced during a fabulous 14 course Mexican inspired meal at the Kitchen Table at Empellon Cocina. Prior to dining this full blown upscale version, I also visited their more casual Taqueria. Do not be dismissive based on the name. Staying very much accessible, the flavors on the menu are distinctly Mexican and yet spreading wings to satisfy a more enhanced and experimental palate. The Cocina is more of the same and certainly delivers in a more formalized version. The Kitchen Table experience is just that; an ultimate luxury of being looked over and served by the chef himself and having a direct line view to all that happens in the kitchen....
Cocina - Empellon
105 1st Avenue,
New York, NY 10003