The other day during work, I had one thing on my mind.  Tacos.  It was one of those weird cravings that would not go away until satisfied.  I immediately emailed my friend asking for the name of “that taco place from the summer with the really good margaritas.”  Instantly, I received a response.  Mercadito.

After work, we took the 1 train downtown to the Christopher Street stop.  The West Village was bustling with the trendy after work crowd.  It’s always so alive with many outdoor restaurants and people enjoying the chilly, spring day.

I had made reservations in advance, and we were seated inside instantly.  The restaurant is exactly what you would expect out of a great taco joint.  It’s a small space, with wooden tables, colored plates, traditional Spanish music blasting and a view into the hustling kitchen.  I started off my meal with red sangria.  I could drink sangria all day every day.

(Red Wine, Jimador Blanco, Apples, Guava, Cinnamon)

I have seen cinnamon sticks as a decorative feature to sangria before, but never have I seen it generously sprinkled over the top.  The flavor combination was fabulous.  I am slightly reluctant to order sangria sometimes in fear of it being too sweet.  Luckily, this was not.  The red wine, mixed with the sweet tang of apple and then the spice of the cinnamon created a combination of fabulous flavors in my mouth.  Almost like an alcoholic version of charoset.

We had to start off our meal with the traditional guacamole.  They have three different variations, ranging from ones with mango and sweet potato.  It’s pretty wild.  They do have a three guac tasting, but we stuck to the simple one for this meal.

(Avocado, Tomatillo Pico de Gallo, Jalapeno, Garlic, Lime, Cilantro, Salted Corn Tortilla Chips)

Even though we went traditional, the guac was still taken up a notch.  By adding the jalapeno, you get that perfect subtle kick of heat to contrast with the creamy avocado and acidic bite of lime.  The house made corn tortilla chips receive a nice dosage of kosher salt, giving it that perfect little saltiness to join the creamy guacamole.  I found myself licking the bowl clean of the delicious mixture.  Even when all of the guac was finished, I munched on each and every chip, loving the salty, crunchy goodness.

We decided to order slowly and started with the carne tacos, something I have been craving since last summer.  Each taco comes on a warm, lightly toasted, corn tortilla that melts in your mouth.

(Rosemary Marinated Skirt Steak, Manchego, Crispy Potato Strings, Potato-Poblano Rajas, Avocado-Tomatillo Crema, Corn Tortilla)

Yum!  The meaty, melt in your mouth steak mixed with the crunch of the potatoes and creamy manchego made of the perfect little bite.  The corn tortilla brought it all together.  It had all the components of the perfect mini taco.  Eating two, I felt the perfect satisfaction and ready for round 2 of tacos and drinks.

The margarita called the GuavaCava, really caught my eye.  I absolutely love cava, sparkling white wine, and tequila is one of my favorite liquors.  This was something I needed to try.

(Tequila Blanco, Cava, Guava, Lime Juice)

Delicious and refreshing.  The mixture of the sparkling cava, with the creaminess from the guava puree with the tequila cutting through the heaviness of the rest was delicious.  You could barely even taste the tequila, making for bad news for some.

We were next inspired to order the Mahi Mahi Taco.  I additionally held my ground and ordered one of my favorite dishes, fried plantains.  I would have been vetoed otherwise, but I wanted it desperately.  They came out first and I dug right in.

(Crispy Beer Battered Mahi Mahi, Cole Slaw, Chipotle Aioli, Corn Tortilla)

The mahi mahi is so perfectly crispy in this dish, with the creamy, warm, flaky inside.  It actually makes your insides melt.  Then there is the crunchy slaw on top, cut through with the heat from the chipotle aioli, which is slightly soaked up and becomes part of the warm corn tortilla.  It’s delicious.  Eating bites of that, mixed with the sweetness of the plantain and sips of my cavaguava, it was a wonderful sensation coming all together.  I especially love eating the crispier parts of the plantain, smiling during each bite.

Everything came together, and for the quality of the food, it really didn’t break the bank.  It’s super fun place to share all of the delicious food, try different things and enjoy the wonderful drinks and atmosphere.

The next time you have that weird craving for tacos, head to Mercadito.  You will not be disappointed.  But be sure to make a reservation in advance.  It can get very crowded quickly and on a beautiful summer night, sitting outside is the dream.

Mercadito -100 7th Avenue South (at Grove Street) – New York, NY
Price: $$
Location: West Village, NY
Type: Mexican
Perfect For: Authentic DiningTake Out, Casual Meal
Open: Everyday
Reservations: Recommended
Favorite Dishes: Carne Tacos, Mahi Mahi Tacos, Fried Plantains

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