CHEF IGNACIO MATTOS TALKS DOWNTOWN FAVORITES, GUILTY-PLEASURE FOODS & MORE

Grandlife interviews

CHEF IGNACIO MATTOS TALKS DOWNTOWN FAVORITES, GUILTY-PLEASURE FOODS & MORE

back to list

A lot has been written about Ignacio Mattos over the past few years. And with good reason. The Uruguayan-born, New York-based chef and restaurateur has more than proven his standing as a mainstay of New York’s ever-changing culinary scene. A quick Google search will turn up multitudes of articles singing Mattos’s praises for his “honest food,” “originality,” and “precise technical execution.” Yet despite the hype surrounding both his deceptively simple food and the buzzy-yet-relaxed dining environments he has cultivated together with restaurateur Thomas Carter, Mattos has far from lost his appreciation for the simple pleasures in life.

Here, Mattos talks to GrandLife about some of his favorite downtown spots for a casual night out, the merits of the humble French fry, the formula for a memorable dining experience, and more.

What makes a memorable dining experience for you?

Ignacio Mattos: It’s a combination of things. The right company in a casual, delicious spot always makes for an interesting and fun experience. Also, a gracious and engaged staff makes for a great night. When you have that, you don’t need to be dining with anyone.

Is there something you’ve tasted recently that really blew your mind?

IM: I had a pretty delicious chocolate dessert at Ko. I’m not usually a chocolate guy, but it was surprisingly comforting and refreshing.

What are some of your favorite downtown spots to go for a casual night out? What do you like about them, and what do you order?

IM: Hasaki, because I like that it’s a New York institution. I go for the omakase and the grilled banana with ice cream.

Los Tacos Numeros Uno in Chelsea Market, because it feels as genuine as it could be. I get the tacos adobada.

Superiority Burger, because you can just pop in and get a delicious combination of well-crafted ice cream in a very casual environment.

Ops pizza in Bushwick, because we all love pizza!

Abraço is a good neighborhood coffee shop with quite delicious baked goods and sandwiches.

Do you have a guilty-pleasure food? If so, what is it, and where do you get your fix?

IM: French fries. Luckily enough, I have two restaurants where I can go eat them whenever I want. The Café Altro Paradiso and Flora Bar fries are quite different, but both are delicious. Otherwise, my go-to is Shake Shack.

Any secret NYC menu items you can let us in on?

IM: The Bistecca Fiorentina at my own Café Altro Paradiso. Very few people know about it, and it’s incredibly delicious.

In your opinion, which NYC restaurant has the best people-watching?  

IM: Balthazar, where everyone people-watches and at the same time minds their own business.

If you could sit down to a meal with one person, who would it be, and where would you take them?

IM: Louise Bourgeois, and I would take her to Prime Meats to eat the hot dog.

Words Edwina Hagon

Photography Marcus Nilsson

You May Also Like

Roberta Bayley: She Just Takes Pictures

Roberta Bayley: She Just Takes Pictures

art & design
stories
The former Punk magazine photographer and CBGB fixture talks capturing the early punk-rock scene and what it means to be a real New Yorker. 
Nancy Stark Raouls Tarot Reader Psychic New York

Psychic Nancy Stark on Downtown Past & Future

art & design
stories
Raoul’s in-house psychic invites us into her Chelsea home and shares some of her favorite memories—as well as a few projections.
Naren Young Dante Winter Cocktail Recipe Downtown New York Cocktail Bar

Winter Cocktails with Dante's Naren Young

food & drink
stories
The creative director of the newly-tapped “world’s best bar” shares a recipe for Calypso Coffee and his go-to spots for a cozy winter cocktail.  
Rahill Jamalifard Record Store Day Black Friday

Rahill Jamalifard's Record Store Day Wish List

music
stories
Vinyl debuts, underground classics and more: the frontwoman of New York five-piece Habibi shares the record releases she's looking forward to.  
Samantha Urbani Interview GrandLife Leather Jacket Guide New York City Jakett Pop-up

Leather Weather: Samantha Urbani's Hit List

art & design
stories
Find the leather jacket of your dreams thanks to this definitive guide courtesy of our favorite leather-donning artist and musician.
Jesse Malin Sunset Kids Album New York Musician Interview

Jesse Malin's Sunset Kids

music
stories
Singer-songwriter Jesse Malin talks Sunset Kids and the state of the New York music scene. 
Lissy Trullie Interview Music East Village New York

Lissy Trullie's Ultimate East Village Guide

music
stories
And so much more… We spent an afternoon with the lauded rocker and got talking about everything from playing CBGB to her idea of the perfect NY day.
Colovos New York Designers Michael and Nicole Colovos Interview Woolmark Prize

Meet the Creative Minds Behind Colovos

art & design
stories
Fresh from winning the Woolmark Prize for Womenswear, design duo Michael and Nicole Colovos talk inspiration, plus share their downtown haunts.  
Best Rate Promise
Soho Grand Hotel

310 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013

(212) 965-3000
The Roxy Hotel Tribeca

2 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10013

212.519.6600