UPDATED: Location in Miami is currently closed (rumors that it will eventually be coming back). There are locations in Chicago and New York.
Tonight I went to dinner at Mercadito in Midtown. We were looking to go somewhere close and I was kind of craving Mexican, but I wanted to do something a little bit more than one of our go-to places like Lime. I’d been to Mercadito once before and felt it was similar to Rosa Mexicano- kind of like an upscale Mexican restaurant. The previous time I got the queso fundido dip (really good like Rosa’s but with braised short rib instead of chorizo- UPDATE: now chorizo is a filling of choice at Mercadito instead of short rib) and something else but I all I remember it that it was pretty simple (the former picky eater in me can still show up sometime). I’m really really glad I went again (and decided to be more adventurous this time) because while I would say it’s like Rosa in being upscale Mexican, Mercadito is more “gourmet” and creative. I loved the many different flavors and textures and am excited to go back and try more.
I got two order of tacos- costillitas and carne. The costillitas was mole braised bbq short ribs and came with diced grilled celery root, and crispy leeks. The costillitas was my favorite- a lot of solid flavors and nice texture from the celery and leeks. The carne was a rosemary marinated skirt steak, grilled pear, shaved brussel sprouts, chile de arbol vinaigrette, and crispy leeks as well. What I liked about the carne was the combination of sweet and spicy flavors. When I call Mercadito more upscale and “gourmet” I’m referring to all the different, creative, and gourmet ingredients like the grilled pear and leeks that aren’t typical for a lot of regular Mexican restaurants. My friend Krystyna got corn masa quesadillas (which was awesome that they made their quesadillas with corn tortillas!) and it came with chihuahua and oaxaca cheese, corn, roasted poblano, zucchini, salsa verde, and crema fresca. I tried a bit of it hesitantly because while I am not as much of a picky eater in terms of having flavors mixed I still am somewhat of a vega-phobe. But I am really glad I took a bite because it was delicious! It was very cheesy and creamy in the savory corn tortilla and the taste of the vegetables weren’t detectable at all. I think the different tacos and the quesadilla were good representation of the food- a lot of different ingredients, some very creative, that leads to a lot of great flavors and textures. Similar to Rosa Mexicano, most of the food at Mercadito is naturally gluten-free but it was cool to see that their quesadillas are made with corn tortillas instead of the usual flour ones.
One thing to note is that Mercadito’s style of service is to bring out the plates whenever they are ready and are more tapas style than full meals. The tacos while delicious, are a bit small. Because of this I got two orders of tacos to be filled up (since my friend Krystyna is a vegetarian) but I was glad to have the chance to try different types of tacos. Mercadito’s has prices similar to what you’d expect for an upscale restaurant in Miami, but by no means prohibitively expensive for a normal dinner.
If you’re looking for a creative spin on Mexican you should definitely check out Mercadito. I’m looking forward to going back and trying more of their tacos and flavors and I’ll definitely be getting the queso fundido and/or quesadillas again.
UPDATE: I now work in the building right above Mercadito so I’ve had a chance to try it even more. They have a great Happy Hour special on drinks and food. $5 cocktails and wine, $3 beer, $5 for two tacos or guacamole with chips or flautas. The tacos similar to the tacos describe above are an explosion of flavors. They include chicken, steak, and pork all with some other great ingredients (like pineapple with the pork). Well worth the visit at Happy Hour and so worth the price!
Additionally during the day Mercadito has a small Taqueria open on the side that has burritos, tacos, quesadillas, tortas, and tostadas with your choice of fillings, plus a number of guacamole and chips. Nice option for lunch that’s reasonably quick and priced.
I was in Chicago visiting with some family when we were looking for a place to eat for breakfast in River North. I had walked by a Mercadito (there are also locations in New York) and suggested it. I got a pretty incredible pork carnitas hash, which was oh such a crispy-yet-fluffy combination, filling, and delicious! A week later while back in Miami I hit Mercadito up for dinner and had some deliciously cheesy arroz verde (green rice with chihuahua & oaxaca cheeses). Highly recommend both the hash and arroz verde along with the previous recommendations!
Mercadito- 3252 NE 1st Ave Miami, FL (locations also in New York City and Chicago)