October 6, 2008

Mercadito - Dressed Up Mexican in NYC

Mercadito has to be one of my all time favorite restaurants in NYC. Now a mini-empire with an outpost in the West Village, Mercadito Grove, and Mercadito Cantina...I still remain true and loyal to the original, Mercadito in the heart of the East Village.

Located on 11th Street and Ave. B, Mercadito is a small, quaint, utterly charming Mexican restaurant - great for both dates and groups. The ambiance is vibrant, colorful, with a rustic feeling like you are sitting in a cantina in Mexico City, albeit a very nice one.

I always always start with the Mango Mojito - fresh muddled mangoes, but you can go with any of the fresh fruits available, and switch out your rum for tequila and do a margarita.

Moving on to the dishes - now I feel like one goes to Mercadito for two things: guacamole and tacos. Guacamole - your choice of pineapple, mango or original...I go with the mango. But that's because there's almost nothing I love more than mangoes. Except maybe bacon, but you already know that.

The chips are served warm and crunchy - and before you know it they are gone. Be sure to ask for seconds.

As for the tacos....all I can say is yum, yum, yum. There are several varieties, but the overall gist is that each taco dish comes with four small soft tacos in a variety of fresh and interesting combinations. Favorites include the Camaron: shrimp, avocado, roasted garlic and chili chipotle mojo, and the Carne: lime & soy marinated skirt steak, scallions, avocado salsa. I also usually go with one of the fish tacos - either the Estilo Baja: today's beer battered fish, mexican style cole slaw, chile chipotle aioli, or the Mojarra : tilapia, huitlacoche, manchego cheese, corn, tomatillo salsa.

For my boyfriend and I, 3 taco dishes is usually the perfect amount to order. Other dishes include a variety of ceviches and main courses, but I typically stick with the tacos. I like to have variety and taste a many different combinations.

For sides - I recommend the plantains...hot, sweet and decadent...they are the perfect complement to the spicy flavors of the meal.

As for dessert - I recommend walking across 11th to St. Marks and stopping by Chikalicious Dessert Club or the Dessert Truck. You'll get a better bang for your buck there as Mercadito is not known for its desserts.

One final note - after 10pm on weeknights, 11pm on weekends...Mercadito has a special all you can eat tacos for $24 bucks! This is subject to change so call before you head on down, but it makes for a perfect late night bite.

Also- reservations are necessary as the restaurant is small and very popular. In addition they are pretty strict about the 15 minute grace period so my advice is tell you friends the resy is 1/2 before the actual time. We all know how long it takes to get down to the East Village!

179 Ave. B, New York, NY 10009

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