Wednesday, April 29, 2009

mercadito: the happiest place on earth

subtitle: and the return of friend number two

me (after consuming half a margarita): this might just be my favorite restaurant...ever.
friend number two: you say that everywhere we go.

granted, i am a complete lightweight (aka a cheap date) but mercadito really is one of my favorite restaurants ever. every time i go, i feel compelled to express my admiration for this place--over and over and over again. patience, my friends! the meal will be rewarding enough to listen to me ramble. the other night, i even convinced 2 out of 3 dining partners to include it in their respective top 3 shortlists. (friend number two is a toughie). allow me to explain:
  1. awesome margaritas. have i mentioned my love of margaritas? because i love them.
  2. possibly awesomer food.
  3. a cozy dining atmosphere and friendly service.
what's not to like?! so now, allow me to provide some details based on my recent dinner and brunch a couple of weeks ago.

margaritas: yum yum yum yum yum. this is the kind of place where the margaritas are so good that you might just stop by one day to sit at the bar and have one. several margaritas and snacks later...well, you get my point. although margaritas are regular price during brunch, a mimosa is included. don't miss $5 margarita happy hour, mon-thurs 4-7pm. there's a different kind of margarita for everyone! a few of my tried and true:

tradicional ($9) sadly, i might be that boring person where this is my favorite. it's perfectly tart and has enough tequila so that it's not too sweet. very fresh and full of citrus.
with fresh mango ($11) this one is also great (they all are). i do love mango in my margaritas and it's done so well here because the mango doesn't overdo the sweet factor.
pepino tequila blanco, cucumber, lime, chile de arbol ($10) this one is good but i have a hard time drinking a whole one. the cucumber is quite refreshing but i'm much more of a citrus fan.
tres cítricos with habanero ($10) good flavor with a kick of heat.

guacamole is never optional. i usually opt for the guacamole tasting ($11.50 brunch, $13.50 dinner) but was perfectly content the other night with the mango guacamole with jicama and chipotle ($9.50). the guacamole, again, delicious and fresh, but each one has something a little different as well as a bit of welcome heat.

two of my favorite things in life are seafood and citrus. sounds like ceviche to me! mercadito has a great selection of 5 ceviches. we had the three ceviches tasting ($24.50) with callo (bay scallops, watermelon, key lime-habanero broth, epazote), robalo (wild striped bass, mango, chile piquin, tamarind-apple soda broth) and mixto (shrimp, octopus, scallops, tomato, roasted garlic-jalapeño broth). all were good. i was too hungry to take in the details...

i was in charge of ordering and completely left the corn masa quesadillas out. i am not to be trusted while half a margarita deep. so i've never actually eaten this dish but it looks awesome: corn masa quesadillas one of each with mexican cheese: mahi mahi-tomatillo, shrimp-plantain, wild mushroom-epazote crema ($13.50).

camaron tacos ($15 brunch--coffee or mimosa and rice and beans included, $14 dinner) shrimp, roasted garlic, chipotle mojo, avocado. oh man. the sauce is spicy and thick but not too spicy, a little smokey and almost a little sweet. perfect with the shrimp. this is where i really start to vocalize my feelings.

mole tacos ($14) sautéed chicken, sweet plantain, crema fresca, mole poblano sauce. the sweet plantain really added an extra dimension here, an "ooh yum, what is that?!" if you will. all of the tacos are served 4 per order (they're small) and are on homemade corn tortillas.

enchiladas rojas shrimp, mexican cheeses, plum tomato-guajillo arbol sauce, crema fresca ($23.50) the sauce was delicious, the shrimp were large, fresh and cooked perfectly.

three corn pico de gallo with hominy, white & yellow corn, onion, tomato, cilantro ($5) so fresh with bold flavors and um, hominy is awesome.

pollo tacos: pollo costeño rubbed grilled chicken, piloncillo pickled sweet potato, crispy manchego, chipotle salsa ($14). i'm pretty sure these ones are only on the brunch menu. they're worth tracking down. again, great sauce but i love the pickled sweet potato! i always appreciate a vinegar factor in my food and it pairs well with the crispy manchego.

are you convinced yet? run, don't walk!
179 avenue b (between 11th st and 12th st)

1 comment:

  1. getting there, I could run and not walk. Afterwards, i could barely muster a stumble.