I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Mercadito - Spanish for "You Have To Get Four of the Same Taco."

"Someday, you'll be able to take all your food reviews, and compile a book, called 'This is Why You're Closed.'" ~ Gael L.

Mercadito opened in MidTown. If you need the address it's this: Midtown, South of NW 36th Street by about two or three blocks, and a block East of Five Guys and Lime. But more South.

Right next to Sugarcane.

I haven't done a review of Sugarcane, because, aside from the waiter not saying "thank you" and "good night," I had nothing to complain about, and really? Writing positive reviews won't get me in the running next year for one of the Three Funniest Blogs according to Rick at South Florida Daily Blog.

Sugarcane has an attractively done interior, a great indoor/outdoor space, smiley and attentive bartenders, delicious beer cocktails, and tasty, tasty food. And it's not outrageously expensive - I daresay it's reasonable. And tasty!

See how boring?


Mercadito opened in the space next to Sugarcane.

Their interior designer is to be commended. The restaurant is done in this hybrid mid-Century-Palm-Springs-meets-Mexican style, with a slatted, angular wooden ceiling, white-painted brickwork, and snakeskin booths. The murals on the wall are tacky. There are well-placed jungle-y plants, with great lighting - the interior of the restaurant really did it for me. Seriously.

I'll make a really nice restaurant for someone else to take over when Mercadito closes.

Maybe it won't close. Maybe they'll just fire our waiter, and boom! Problem solved. Everyone else working at the restaurant seemed like less of a cockface. Well, not really. The hostesses were rawther pinched. And the one who seated us was wearing a Tahari suit, that looked... totally out of place.

Which brings me to the object of my scorn:

What is it with all these asshats waiting tables these days? Is there some new requirement that waiters today have to treat you like you're a moron, or violate your personal space bubble, or breathe on you, or GRAB THINGS OUT OF YOUR HANDS?! Seriously -- WHEN is it okay to do that?! EVER?! If you're not five years old?! And even then, you get a lecture from Miss Bev, about how it's David's turn to play with that, and you had your turn.

Our waiter today bugged me from the get go. He started losing points, when he bent down over me and started yapping. He had terrible breath, and the demeanor of a Port Authority bus ticket salesman.

Once he had asked us the patronizing question, "Have you ever dined with us before?" ::eyeroll:: and I took the bait and said "No," he launched into his tapas pitch, and snatchy-grabbily flipped my menu over in my hands...to show me where things were on the Menu. Because I was looking at drinks. And that's not what he was talking about, at that moment. So he needed to grab the menu out of my hands and point me in the right direction. Because, I'm apparently incapable of retaining information like where "guacamole" is on the menu, on my own.

From now on, when a waiter asks me if I've been there before, I'm going to say "yes," even if it's the restaurant's first day open. If not, I have to suffer through a stupid spiel about the restaurant's "concept."

I always thought a restaurant's "concept" should be "food," but I guess that's why I'm a lawyer, and don't own a restaurant.

Mercadito's concept is Mexican Tapas. Mind-blowing.

Here's where he totally lost me: he told us that there were eleven taco choices, and if you ordered an order of four tacos (the only way to order tacos) (for $15.00) they'd all have to be the same kind of taco. Even though all the tacos were the same price.

After this, he flipped the menu (in my hands...AGAIN) to show us the drink and beer and wine menu. All this time, he's leaning over be, breathing on me, and I'm all like "Woah, back off, Andre the Bad-Breathed Giant."

After one more menu-flip he showed us the guacamole choices. "The food comes out whenever it's done in the kitchen, so we have no control over it and there's really no order to how things come out. So, you want some guacamole?"

After his off-putting intro, I was so annoyed by him, his yanky, mothering, smothering demeanor, and the restaurant's same-taco policy, I sort of wanted to get the hell out of there.

So I told him to piss off while we decided on Guacamole. So he did. For 15 seconds, only to reappear to fill my water while I was asking Gael whether we should just cut and run, because I smelled a doomed meal. He awkwardly filled my water, while I awkwardly stopped mid-sentence, only to finish after he had loped off to one of his other unfortunate tables.

In the end, we stayed.

I got some drink that was allegedly made of beer, tequila, spices and pineapple juice. When the drink finally effing came, 3/4ths of the way through the meal, it had fragments of wood floating in it and was so tall, the straw nearly poked my eye out.

Oh, and it tasted like cinnamon pineapple juice with tequila.

Suck on that for a moment. I did.

We ordered an order of normal guacamole (Gael: "We're NOT getting one of those fruit guacamoles he was talking about. If he suggested it, we're not ordering it.") and we both got orders of chicken flautas, and I got an order of elote.

From being seated, to signing the check, the meal took 25 minutes. Again. See, El Scorpion's review.

Within two minutes: BOOM! Guacamole. It was fine. The chips were delightfully crispy.

4 minutes later: BANG! Elote comes out. Two baby-fist size hunks of corn, covered with spicy cheesiness. The spiciness got a little...overwhelming towards the end of the meal.

3 minutes later: POW! Flautas. Four appetizer-eggroll-sized flautas, mashed onto spicy black beans, topped with queso fresco and lettuce, with crema drizzle. Served... wait for it... in a big ole' glass bowl.

Because... nothing says fried finger food! like a glass bowl with a ginormous rim.

Also, who tops finger foods with a heap of lettuce?


Since we consciously decided to eschew the "tapas! sharing! goodtimes! I'll eat your food!" concept of the restaurant we really confused the runner who was like, "Uh... you BOTH got Flautas?" "Yeah, asshole, set 'em down." (I didn't really say that.)

They were fine.

Another three minutes and I was looking around, thinking "Where the hell is my drink?" It came right before a joke about how things would come out when they were good and ready.

Midway through our speed-meal, I stopped chewing and realized there were no discernable flavors to anything.

The entire meal was akin to being at a party, where all of your friends are yelling at the same time - everything tasted like a cacaphonous mess, even though the individual components were really quite good. It was like, "SALTYFRIEDSPICYBEANSCHICKENCREAMRAAALALALALALALALLAAMMMMAAAALALALA" That's how I would describe the food.

Around the time I realized that the food was like a Frat Party in my mouth waterpeople lined up behind me, just waiting for me to take a sip, to refill my glass. They must have hired too many people, or something... there were people milling about, EVERYWHERE, pouring water.

When we let it be known we wouldn't be having dessert, the table was cleared in 12 seconds, and we had the check and were out the door three minutes later.

It's late, I gotta go to bed, so no snappy flourish to the end of this, but if a restaurant's saving grace is its interior design, that's not great.

But the place was packed!

So, maybe what the fuck do I know, right? I mean the place was tasty, if you're into noisy Mexican food -- hell, I probably would have been into it, if I didn't hate the guy serving it to me.