Estilo Baja Tacos at Mercadito
Brace yourselves amigos, this post is gonna be a long one… This past Saturday night, we celebrated my dear friend Erica’s birthday at Mercadito. I had been before, and looooved it, so I was eager to go again. It is definitely a “scene” place, with a fun decor, lively music, and packed on weekends. If you every have the opportunity to go the tequila lounge downstairs as well, I’d jump on it. It can only fit about 30 people, but they play dance music, and a tequila bar juts across almost the entire space. While there one feels very VIP…
Erica had made 8:30 reservations for a group of 11 weeks in advance as we knew it was a happenin’ place and that it gets super crowded and though the group showed up on schedule, the hostess stated that we’d have a little bit of a wait. 45 minutes later, we were still waiting. After several attempts to figure out when we would be sitting, much grumbling amongst ourselves, the what I assume was the manager came up to us and offered all eleven of us margaritas on the house. Very much appeased, we were seated only a few minutes later. Good job Mercadito for making up for your overbooking.
I hate tequila. I generally am forced up on this genre of alcohol, and when someone is successful in forcing me to consume it, it is extremely rare. At Mercadito, all their cocktails are tequila-based, and really good. For me to say this means it’s true. On Saturday, I started out with the free margarita, which was just the “margarita tradicional” with tequila, grand marnier, lime, and agave nectar. With salt and around the rim, it is scrumptious. I also had the “little market,” with tequila, pineapple, chile, and topped with cilantro. I had ordered on my previous experience there, and therefore knew it was good.
Because our party was greater than 7, we did the Canastita tasting menu, and honestly, I don’t know how any group could do any of the other tasting menus as they come with more food, and we couldn’t even finish ours. Granted, we were eight girls and two guys, but still. So much food and we felt really guilty about not eating all of it. Since my friend Domino and I were the only ones who had eaten there previously, we were put in charge of ordering for the table. We ordered the tradicional, mole poblano, and the toreado guacamoles, the roja and verde salsas, the plantains and corn on the cob sides, and the carne, chicken mole, camaron, and estilo baja tacos. All this was capped off with some flan, with a candle on the birthday girl’s of course.
The great thing about Mercadito is it’s twist on Mexican food. Though basing their dishes on traditional Mexican recipes, Mercadito’s have their own unique twist. The moble polano guacamole consisted of avocado, plantain, chile, pico de gallo, and was topped with their amazing mole sauce. I can’t name another place where you would get that. The toreado guacamole had chile, garlic, serano, and tomatillo pico whose flavors together made the guac taste like bbq sauce, but with the same consistency as guac, making for a surprisingly pleasant result.
On to the tacos… By far the best ones are the camaron (shrimp) tacos and the estilo baja (mahi mahi) tacos. The shrimp tacos come with a chipotle mayo sauce and is topped with a slice of avocado. It needs nothing else, as the sauce’s spicy richness is amazing enough in itself. Beer battered, with coleslaw and topped with chipotle aioli, the mahi mahi is a close second favorite of mine. It’s the chipotle aioli. It wouldn’t be half so good without it.
By this time, we were all pretty much groaning and rubbing our stomachs due to the fullness. But I rallied and had a bite of the carne and chicken tacos which tasted scrumptious as well. I also won’t forget to mention the plantain sides and the corn on the cob. I LOVE plantains. As a Puerto Rican, I was born and raised on this dish, and make a pretty good plantain if I do say so myself. These were excellent sides, and the corn on the cob came with butter, cumin, and other spices that were so tasty, but I don’t even want to think about the calories. Lastly, after we sang happy birthday to Erica, I managed to force down a bite of flan which I liked because it wasn’t too sweet, and the consistency was just hard enough. Jamie had an amusing comment, when she compared the flan to the cheesecake at Il Mulino. She was quite right.
As you can probably tell through my raving about this place, I would go back again and again. I strongly recommend it, especially for a group dinner. Even though it isn’t BYOB, the originality of the drinks makes up for it. It is definitely not the cheapest of places, but well worth it for the service, the decor, the atmosphere, and the great food. Vayanse, mis amigos! Pronto!