Tío Pepe, 168 West 4th Street

Now... (Photo by Juan Salas)

In a fast-paced city like New York, where new businesses wither and sprout daily, it is tough to find a restaurant that has stuck it out through the decades without completely losing it old school charm. Tío Pepe, located at 168 West 4th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues is one such place.

Established in 1970, Tío Pepe has been a Greenwich Village staple for over 40 years. Here we find the tastes of Spain and Mexico in one place, where paella and guacamole co-exist harmoniously, though frequenters will claim the restaurant is more “Spanish” than “Mexican”.

The restaurant began as a Spanish establishment in 1970, but in 1972, Mexican dishes were added to the menu after the owners took a trip to Mexico. “People liked it, so we expanded these dishes. But our heart was set in the Spanish flavor,” remarks Jimmy (Geminiano) Sanz, owner of Tío Pepe.  Jimmy and his wife, Rocio, originate from Zamora, Spain, and frequently vacation back in the old country, staying in touch with the flavors of the Iberian Peninsula.

...and then... (Photo courtesy NYU Archives)

Hence, Tío Pepe has a distinct Spanish identity that makes its mark not only in the food, but also in the décor of the restaurant. Paintings of the Spanish countryside grace the walls of Tío Pepe and the Moroccan tiled designs on the tables, to the cast iron chandeliers above only add to the extremely Iberian feel.  Spanish ceramic blue and white art also hangs on the walls inside the restaurant.

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