Authentic Mexican Food & Drink w/Chef Luis Arce Mota & Alex Valencia of La Contenta Oeste (LIVE MUSIC) 2/16/18

Authentic Mexican Food & Drink w/Chef Luis Arce Mota & Alex Valencia of La Contenta Oeste (LIVE MUSIC) 2/16/18


saturday, february 16th, 2019

3:30 pm - 5:30 pm

la contenta oeste (map)

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What is authentic Mexican food and drink? Where do the flavors that so many Mexican-food loving New Yorkers gravitate towards come from? How might traditional approaches to Mexican food be re-imagined for the American palate? What other spirits besides tequila and mezcal exist?!

Join Chef and Owner Luis Arce Mota and Mixologist Alex Valencia as they guide us through the Authentic Mexican eating experience. We’ll explore everything from the history of Mexican street food and pepper variations to Mezcal, Clandestine Spirits, and the importance of time and LIVE music (yes, there will be live music).

On The Menu

Beverages by Alex Valencia

Tasting of Three Clandestine Spirits (4oz Pours): Raicilla, Sotol and Bacanora

Tasting of 3 Cocktails (1/2 cocktail of each drink per person): El Prietoni, Matador, and Paloma Norteña

Mexican Street Food Pairing by Chef Luis Arce Mota

Guacamole & Chips (“Of Course,” Chef Says)

An Exploration of Pepper Variations through Freshly-Made Salsas (6 fresh, 12 dried pepper variations explored)

Assorted Masa-Based Street Foods: Tacos, Quesadillas, and the like.

About Chef Luis Arce Mota & La Contenta Oeste


Chef Luis Arce Mota brings years of skill, experience and ambition to the kitchen of La Contenta Oeste. At La Contenta Oeste, just as at his restaurant’s four-year-old Lower East Side namesake, his goal is to showcase his Mexican roots alongside his classical French culinary training, offering Mexican cuisine with French accents

Chef Mota is a true New York story: that of someone starting at the bottom and determinedly working his way up. It’s especially thrilling for him to bring the La Contenta concept to 78 West 11th Street, where he comes full circle as a successful restaurateur: in 1993, Luis began his culinary career as a dishwasher at the now legendary French Roast, the original incarnation of this Greenwich Village space, not long after emigrating to the United States from Mazatlán, Mexico. 

His early exposure to and love for family cooking and traditions in Mexico primed his eagerness to learn more in New York at every opportunity. Chef Mota’s initiative and performance were rewarded, and he gained experience in many famous Manhattan kitchens, under the tutelage of renowned chefs including César Ramirez, David Bouley, and Michael Romano. In between stints at Bouley, Windows on the World and Union Square Café, Luis received formal culinary education at the Cordon Bleu in Paris and the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

Chef Mota eventually opened Café Condesa, a very popular and well reviewed West Village eatery. Café Condesa was a tiny space with an even tinier kitchen containing just an induction stove and convection oven; for Chef Mota these not as obstacles but creative challenges. He then opened Ofrenda where New Yorkers reaped the benefit of what Chef Mota could do in a real kitchen where he offered a menu rich in tradition and heritage, and, at the same time, fun. 


La Contenta on the Lower East Side was a recent development in Luis’ career as a chef owner. In this intimate Lower East Side bistro, he presents a menu highlighting traditional Mexican ingredients while incorporating classic French techniques. The goal at La Contenta and now, La Contenta Oeste, is to offer excellent quality at a reasonable price point, with a particular focus on customer service. Luis is excited to return to Greenwich Village to showcase his homestyle Mexican cuisine. 

In what little spare time is available to him, Luis loves to travel. He has visited all seven continents, and especially enjoys scuba diving and sampling and studying the cuisines of every destination. Luis has been married for 27 years, and he and his wife have rescued many animals, including the macaw and turtle that share their home.

About Alex Valencia


Alex Valencia began his career in the service industry in 2003, and had the opportunity to follow his true passion – mixology – three years later. In 2008, he started working alongside some of New York City’s top-rated mixologists from bars such as PDT, Little Branch, and Apotheke. During that time, Alex was able to hone his skills as well as learn and create new techniques and recipes that have become his signatures.

Alex’s limitless creativity and talent quickly garnered recognition from industry peers, local and international press, as well as extensive praise from the public. In 2008, Alex was part of the opening team of Yerba Buena in New York City’s East Village. Following the success of the first location, Alex was named head bartender and bar manager at the second Yerba Buena in the West Village, where he was tasked with creating the restaurant’s cocktail program. Alex received many accolades from publications such as The New York Times, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, and many more for his work. 

In 2012, Alex began working as the head bartender at The Flatiron Room, known for its vast library of whiskies. Shortly thereafter, his whisky cocktail recipes were published in the book Whiskey Distilled: A Populist Guide to the Water of Life, by Heather Greene. Next, cocktail fans found Alex behind the bar at Bathtub Gin, a well-known Chelsea speakeasy. Aside from showcasing his masterful cocktail skills at some of the city’s leading bars and restaurants, since 2010 Alex has been educating the public in the art of creating cocktails through his mixology classes, and has mentored several novice bartenders. 

Alex's honest passion for cocktails guides his career and personal life, and his dream to one day open his own mixology bar was fulfilled in early 2015 at La Contenta, where he partnered with Chef Luis Arce Mota to create one of the Lower East Side’s most renowned Mexican restaurants. Alex’s Jalisco heritage is fully evident in a cocktail list that artfully explores the potential of tequila and mescal, and also proselytizes on behalf of alt-agave spirits such as raicilla, bacanora, sotol, and pulque as well. In November 2017, Alex brings his expertise to the bar of La Contenta Oeste, the team’s second location.

Alex enjoys spending his leisure time cooking, dining out, and discovering new bars and restaurants, as well as devoting time to his wife and daughters, who are his biggest fans.