As some of you, my readers, I have mixed feelings about brunch. I do love having a relaxed daytime, weekend meal at a restaurant but I dislike the fact of seeing ordinary breakfast food that I can make at home. Thankfully, since I’m in the melting pot of culture and restaurants in New York City, there’s hope for me.
Stumbling upon Mercadito’s email about their brunch* it seemed like a good idea to try a Mexican brunch. I managed to convince my brother to get out of his apartment the past Sunday and meet up with him there.
Standing in front of this narrow restaurant that’s pretty easily standing out from the rest on this part of Avenue B, it’s already filled with diners. And it’s a few minutes past 12 PM.
We started brunch with fruit flavored mimosas. (They serve off a prix fixe menu of $19 consisting of a fruit mimosa or cafe con leche, an entrée that comes with rice and beans.) The three featured were strawberry, mango, and pineapple. Both were good, bubbly drinks and you can tell they use real fruit instead of a mix. I would prefer the pulp being puréed or muddled down a bit more so I won’t have a large chunk of fruit in my mouth.
To go along with the drinks, we ordered the trio of guacamoles (traditional, pineapple, and mango) and fresh tortilla chips. All the guacamoles were fresh and delicious. I prefer the traditional but the mango (the brown colored one) was quite memorable for being the pretty unusual (a darker, sweet-savory guacamole).
My first entrée, steak picadas (here’s a close up photo), a long plate filled with four, approximately three-inches, of warm discs of corn masa topped with steak (they do have options of pork, chicken and zucchini), black beans and crema fresca. It’s like eating an open-faced taco but the corn masa disc is a lot denser and thicker.
My brother had the pancakes made with manchego cheese, banana, topped with cinnamon butter and sat in a pool of maple syrup. It’s not my ideal pancake when I tried a bite. The pancakes were on the dense side and I’m not too fond of the idea of pancakes swimming in a pool of syrup that potentially soaks the cakes up therefore ruining the texture. But beyond that, they were ok.
Since I had extra room to eat more, I ordered two round of tacos (this particular brand of restaurants is prolific with tacos) for my brother and I. We split the estil baja fish tacos; deep-fried, beer battered mahi mahi topped with
Mexican-style coleslaw and chipotle aioli. This particular quartet of soft tacos makes me understand the hype behind Mercadito’s fish taco. Everything was fresh, the flavors were balanced and it has a crunchy, fresh texture from the coleslaw all wrapped in a not too thick flour tortilla. I did enjoy the kick of heat from the chipotle aioli.
The carne tacos, from my perspective, is like a breakfast taco. Soft flour tortillas topped with cubes of rosemary marinated flank steak, potatoes and avocado. I opted out the additional egg just because I’m kind of a traditionalist with tacos. Eggs shouldn’t be in tacos, in my opinion. Anyway, this was pretty good. If anything I would add a spicy sauce to waken up the flavors of the taco.
In all, Mercadito seems like a place that’s encourages sharing food (the quartet of tacos, for example). The atmosphere is loud and convivial and it does get busy quickly over the hour and a half I ate there. From the food perspective, I suggest sticking with the more Mexican-leaning dishes as they tend to have more flavorful soul and the guacamole. For $19, this brunch deal is not bad.
*Disclosure: I thank Chef Patricio Sandoval and Mercadito for this generous invitation. As all my reviews are, this is still candid.