Chile peppers: Exec creates guide to NYC Mexican food

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Other publishers rarely stray from their tables at Michael's and the Four Seasons, but Lisa Quiroz zips from one Mexican restaurant to another. The Mexican-American publisher of Time Warner's People en Español was inspired by Zagat's restaurant guide to create the pamphlet-sized "LQ Guide to Manhattan Mexican." Her rating system ranges from four hot chile peppers ("Andale!") down to one ("Ay! No!).

There are shocking revelations. Those who consider well-known Zarela's, with its celebrity owner-chef Zarela Martinez and packed bar scene, the Mexican to be seen at are sadly deluded. Lauded by Zagat, Zarela's is dismissed with "This Mexican remains unimpressed" and two measly chiles.

What's hot? LQ's two top picks are rustic but sophisticated Maya ("tremendous") and Tex-Mex dive El Paso Taqueria ("The real McCoy!" "Tremendous bargain."). Four chiles each. Other four-chile choices are West Village mexikitchen Mi Cocina ("Genuinely bueno!) and Rocking Horse ("How do you say `sleeper hit!' en espa¤ol?" "Innovative.") in the Meatpacking district.

The latest version of the "LQ Guide" will go to Ms. Quiroz's clients as a holiday gift.

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