Anything slathered with cheese, avocado, and sour cream has a special place in my heart, so you can imagine my excitement when my favorite Mexican restaurant in the city, Mercadito, began serving brunch. I had high hopes on Saturday. My stomach was on my side, my head was screaming for a life saving margarita, and I had a friend in town, CMQ, who loves Mexican as much as me.
We were quickly seated in one of the tables in the front room, which provided an intimate yet lively atmosphere. Eager for an espresso drink to kick off the meal, I was pretty disappointed when the waitress told me they only had regular coffee. Investing in a good espresso machine should be some kind of instated rule for restaurants that offer brunch. I deal with underwhelming brewed coffee five days a week, but Saturdays should not be included in that count. We weren’t off to a good start and I was starting to worry that I had led my friend astray.
I calmed my anxiety with a mimosa, which led to my $18 “Hangover Cure” commitment, which included one cocktail, one brunch item, and rice and beans. This is a pretty great deal, considering the cocktails alone are around $10.50. The hongos omelette with wild mushrooms, roasted tomato, chihuahua and oaxaca cheeses and leek-huitlacoche salsa immediately caught my eye, while CMQ battled between breakfast or lunch, and ultimately ordered a classic: the huevos rancheros.
My omelette came out bubbling in a small skillet, resembling a macaroni and cheese in every way (love!), and was served with some sort of toast that wasn’t on the menu but was totally delicious. Unfortunately, by the time my friend’s dish arrived, mine was no longer piping hot and the cheese was getting clumpy. I genuinely dislike when restaurants either force you to be rude and eat in front of your starving friend, or contribute to your walloping headache as you use every ounce of restraint to not dive in to your plate. No bueno, Mercadito.
CMQ’s Huevos Rancheros was beautiful in design and color but peculiarly liquidy from the over-easy eggs, which required her to order accompanying rice and beans as an add-on. Mercadito prides itself on serving authentic Mexican cuisine, something I won’t pretend to be qualified to assess, so I attributed the uniqueness of her dish to my lack of exposure to un-Americanized Mexican food. I’m used to Huevos Rancheros so full of substance you can hardly finish your plate, and CMQ’s left her with something to be desired.
My omelette was unique in its skillet delivery and ingredients, but surprisingly lacking in bold flavors. I was expecting more of the Mexican cheeses to stand out, but instead it tasted like a lot of bland cheese on a lot less eggs. Because I’m a sucker for cheese and it felt like that’s all I was eating, I liked it, but I can’t imagine others would feel the same. It was good, but not great.
The Bitches Say: C+. Overall, a disappointment from the phenomenal dinners I’ve experienced in the past here. If you want a brunch that complements Mercadito’s special ambiance, order from the lunch/dinner items (i.e. the tacos), but don’t expect to be blown away by their lackluster breakfast.
179 Ave B between 11th & 12th streets
New York, NY
Mercadito serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, 12-4 p.m.