Neighborhood: East Village, 179 Avenue B (between 11th and 12th Streets)
The scoop: We’ve all eaten at Mercadito before, and trying their brunch has been at the top of our list for quite some time. We were finally able to coordinate a date to check it out and asked one of our active subscribers, Nicole, to join us for brunch. We met Nicole through Twitter and were excited to finally meet her and discuss brunch, as well as learn about the new website she founded, assistantstellall.com.
Mercadito has two dining areas, one in the front and one in the back. The front dining room features a full bar, but it is a little cramped and seating is extremely close. We were seated in the front and found ourselves to be rather uncomfortable while we were dining. Jen and Steph were smushed against the wall, and Jen even had to wait for the people behind her to leave before she could get up to use the bathroom. Steph had to keep her legs shifted a certain way throughout the meal because there was a weird beam connected to one of the table legs. We prefer sitting in the back area because it is more comfortable. There was a large party of about 10 males in the back room. I’m not sure why they weren’t seating other parties in the back because there was still plenty of room.
Although our waitress was patient as some of us mulled over the menu, the service was average. We waited a good amount of time for our food, and two of us received our meals several minutes before the rest of the group. Also, the busboys were quick to take away drinks that weren’t quite finished. Jen still had a few sips of her sangria left, and the busboy took it away! We found ourselves keeping guard over our drinks just to make sure we could enjoy every sip of them.
The Mercadito ”perfect hangover cure” brunch comes with three brunch drinks of your choice. You can choose from bloody Mary, traditional margarita, mimosa and sangria. There’s a reason why you get three drinks: They come in very small glasses.
A couple of us enjoyed the red sangria. It was pretty flavorful, and although it was sweet, you can still taste the alcohol. The addition of tequila makes this sangria slightly different from the usual.
The white sangria was sweet and had an overwhelming pineapple taste. I couldn’t even taste any alcohol! It tasted like pineapple juice. There was no fruit served in either the red or white sangria. Very disappointing.
Although sangria is my favorite brunch cocktail, I decided to get a margarita as my last drink because I am a huge fan of Mercadito’s margaritas. I think it’s best to order it without salt on the rim because the drink has the right amount of salt in it, and the lime taste provides a good balance.
Chew on this:
Torta Pollo / Mexican-style hot sandwich with black bean purée, napa cabbage, tomato, jalapeño, avocado, oaxaca cheese – chile morita smoked chicken
My food was one of the dishes that came out early so I waited to eat until everyone received their plates. By the time I bit into the torta, it wasn’t warm. The chile morita added a good smokey taste to the chicken, but I was disappointed with the sandwich overall as it was very salty. In fact, the smokey and salty taste was overpowering, and I was unable to taste any of the other ingredients. I was pleased to see that my dish came with mixed greens because it wasn’t mentioned on the menu, but just like the sandwich, the greens were salty and bitter.
Torta Estilo Baja / Mexican-style hot sandwich with black bean purée, napa cabbage, tomato, jalapeño, avocado, oaxaca cheese – beer battered mahi mahi, Mexican style coleslaw, chipotle aioli
I had the Estilo Bja Torta which was delicious. The mahi mahi was beer battered, with a thin coating of batter, which complemented the crema fresca nicely. I loved the bread and black bean puree. I wish I had tasted more jalapeno because I love spicy food. The torta was served with a salad that was actually salty, so I couldn’t finish it. My side of rice and beans were ‘eh.
Huevos Rancheros / Eggs over easy, corn tortilla, pinto bean hash, salsa ranchera, crema fresco
I don’t order this dish too often, but I figured this was the place to do it. When in Rome (or a Mexican restaurant), right? Nothing about this huevos rancheros really stood out for me. The eggs were runny, and the salsa ranchera had a pleasant kick. There was a little bit too much crema drizzled over the eggs for my liking, but I really enjoyed the cilantro that was on top on the dish. The tortilla did get pretty soggy from the eggs and all the sauce. All in all, an average brunch choice.
Tostadas de Hongos / Crispy corn tortillas, wild mushrooms, black bean hash, manchego cheese, tomatillo salsa, epazote crema fresca
I really had no idea what to order. Since we went to brunch kinda late, I didn’t want eggs. I can’t even tell you why I ended up choosing Tostadas de Hongos. When I ordered it, I asked the server to hold the crema. She asked if I was allergic to it. I told her I wasn’t, but that I really didn’t like it. I found it odd that she asked me that. I’m hoping it’s because they would have been extra careful handling my dish if I was allergic. The presentation was the best part about this entrée: four chip-like tortillas were topped with the hash, mushrooms, mixed greens and cheese. Like Nicole and Victoria, I found my dish to be salty. I assume it was the mixed greens, but it could have been the mushrooms. This dish is a good option for vegetarians, but I was left wanting more. It didn’t satisfy my appetite. Nothing about this dish wowed me. I was expecting more from Mercadito.
Rice and beans
All of our dishes came with a side of rice and beans, which were ‘eh. Victoria asked for hot sauce for the rice and beans, and the waitress brought it over in a little bowl. With just a tad of this red/orangey hot sauce, it added a nice kick to the bland rice and beans, making them slightly more tasty.
The final bite: Mercadito is a decent place to brunch because you can get a lot for your money. You can’t ask for more than a good variety of Mexican dishes, a decent size serving of rice and beans and three brunch cocktails. However, it comes with a caveat: don’t expect the food or drinks to be that great.
Reviewed by: Jen, Stephanie and Victoria