Foiled in my attempt to go to the Red Hook Ball Fields yesterday, I had a hankering for grilled corn that had to be satisfied. I began scanning my memory for restaurants on my ‘to check out soon’ list and remembered that Mercadito Cantina was apparently ‘better than sex.’ While I wouldn’t extend the hyperbole quite so far, the food did satisfy my cravings at the time.
I’ve enjoyed a great gluten-free dinner at the original Mercadito up the street, but this was my first visit to the Cantina. My friend Matt and I ordered a sampling of guacamoles – totally unexpected flavors that were still recognizable as guacamole. I loved the betabel guac with beets, pickled jalpenos and toasted spiced pepitas. The sandia guacamole with watermelon and habanero was spicy and refreshing (reminded me a little of my fig and avocado salsa).
We had the rajas – sautéed chiles with corn (the menu said hominy but they replaced it with regular corn) and the Taquiza carnitas tacos with the veracruzana and cacahuate salsas.
Most of the menu is completely gluten-free. Unfortunately their chips are fried in the same oil as their churros, but I was able to enjoy the guacamoles with the fresh corn tortillas. And apparently I made that look good enough that Matt abandoned the chips and started using tortillas as his guac delivery device as well.
They don’t take reservations and while the space is tiny, the food is worth squeezing in next to strangers. Mondays and Tuesdays they offer all you can eat Tacos and Taquizas. I will definitely be back there soon.
It’s down the street from S’mac, Back 40 and Terroir – gluten-free dining options in American, Greenmarket, Italian and Mexican cuisine all so close together, the East Village seems to have an irresistible call to the “gluten-challenged.”
Address: 172 Avenue B (at 10th St)
New York, NY
Is there a restaurant or bakery you want me to check-out? A product you want me to review? Any other questions or feedback?
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