Tacos With Friends (Casa Mezcal Review – Chinatown)

With so many taquerias and trucks in this city to cover, it’s very rare that el doctoro and I get to sit down and enjoy each other’s company over some tacos and Tecate.  This past week, we decided a trip to the ‘so-hot-right-now’ Barrio Chino would be a great excuse to celebrate our tortilla wrapped friendship.  We even had the honor of sharing this meal with Craig of New Fork City NY, a man with some serious taco knowledge in his own right.  Unfortunately, part of the problem with trying to get into a ‘so-hot-right-now’ restaurant is that everyone else seems to have gotten the same inside tip about how great a place it is.  You’d think after three years of it being impossible to get into Barrio the crowd might have dissipated a bit, but when we attempted to check in they told us it would be an hour-and-a-half wait.  Luckily, right across the street is another solid taco haven by the name of Casa Mezcal.  Here we could be seated immediately, and with the ravenous taco-hunger we had built up this seemed a more suitable option.

Casa Mezcal is a little more pinkies’ up than we’re used to reviewing, but for the most part it lives up to the prices.  Craig had a margarita that he enjoyed, the Doc and I got Tecates (as to be expected), and we all split some guacamole and chips.  I don’t think I’ve ever been to a sit down mexican restaurant where someone didn’t give me the hot tip in advance of “definitely try their guac, its the best ever”, but in this case I assure you…try the guac.  Its smooth, fresh and well seasoned, and when you add a dash of their salsa verde or tomatillo sauce (at least I’m pretty sure it was tomatillo) you get a nice bit of kick to it.

I do have one regret with our order.  After looking up Casa Mezcal later that night, I found out that among their specialties is Chapulqueso (fried grasshopper, tomatoes and basil in melted queso).  Somehow I’ve never eaten grasshopper, although I’ve wanted to for years.  Being that you can cover pretty much anything in melted queso and have it taste good, I figure this might be the place where I should check snackin’ on some grasshoppers off the bucket list.  But I digress, after all unless you’re gonna put Jiminy Cricket between a tortilla with some salsa verde and chorizo, checking out those grasshoppers wouldn’t have made it into this blog anyways.

Tacos De Lengua (Beef Tongue)

Tacos De Lengua (Beef Tongue) - All of the core competencies of a good taqueria were clearly on display with this taco.  The soft, made in-house tortillas wrapped around boiled beef tongue and some fresh onions and cilantro (served with a slice of lime on the side) were the very model of the old adage “Keep It Simple, Stupid”.  All the flavors played off each other very well, and although I would have to say the Lengua tacos from El Carrito Rojo are better (and cheaper) I would definitely order these tacos again.  Quick hint though, add a little of their salsa verde or tomatillo sauce to your taco for a little spice.  There salsas are exceptional and play off of the simplicity of these tacos well. – Taco Slut

Between The Tortilla:
Boiled Beef Tongue
Cilantro
Red Onions

Al Pastor (Chili Rubbed Pork)

Al Pastor Tacos (Chili Rubbed Pork) - Usually, I prefer having more than one option when going out for tacos. I like being able to create my own plate of 3 tacos, just so I can maximize the experience. So when I can only choose one style per order, and this menu had some solid choices, it can be a little overwhelming. “Do I go with the Carnitas?” “The Al Pastor looks good, maybe I should have that.” “I haven’t had a Fish Taco in a while.” When my mind started to sound like this, I put my taco fate into the hands of our waitress. I asked her what she thought the best taco was, to which she responded “Oh, well the Al Pastor is good and…” Before she could finish, I told her she read my mind and that’s what I’d have.

What drew me to the Al Pastor was the inclusion of pineapples. In combination with the chili-rubbed pork, the pineapples would add special sweetness to the taco, which I haven’t had before. It’s almost like the Hawaiian pizza version of a taco. To my surprise, though, I could barely taste any chili at all on the pork. A little salsa verde on the taco did help bring up the spice. The pineapples were the standout of the tacos, making each bite sweet and juicy. Before I knew it, all three were gone. I’ll be on the lookout for future Pineapple + Taco combinations. - Doc Taco

Between The Tortilla:
Chili-rubbed pork
Pineapples
Onions

In closing, this is a great place to come with some friends for a nice sit down dinner.  The drinks are good and there is an art gallery and performance space on the second and third floor if you’re looking for some post meal entertainment.  While we were a little disappointed about not being able to check out Barrio Chino, there will be future taco outings and we are very happy to have tried Casa Mezcal.  A return is in the works, and grasshoppers will be on the menu.

Casa Mezcal (Chinatown)
86 Orchard St.
Manhattan, NY 10002

Website: http://www.casamezcalny.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/casamezcalny
Twitter: twitter.com/casa_mezcal_NY

About heynardo

Managing Editor - Original Content for bigblueunited.com | Partner at @_24west | Freelance Writer | Maker of Sounds | Taco Aficionado Twitter/Instagram - @HeyNardo Writing Portfolio - richardjnardo.com View all posts by heynardo

2 responses to “Tacos With Friends (Casa Mezcal Review – Chinatown)

  • Craig Turpin

    I was fortunate enough to be invited along for a night of Taco Tasting & Tequila Tanking with two new friends from Taco_Slut. What a night it was.

    I met my blind date duo of tacoholics around the corner from our original destination, Barrio Chino due to a long line and even longer wait. Casa Mezcal just around the corner was the perfect back up spot. I’d been here before but never for the Tacos. The Spicy Margarita I knew all too well and immediately dove back in for another promptly after meeting my friends and sitting down to dine.

    After some introductions and pleasantries we jumped right into the feast with a large order of Guac & Chips which didn’t last long with our voracious appetites and continually questioning palates put to the test with a spicy Guacamole I consider one of the top 5 in NYC. If only they would make it at the table. Sadly the dining room is far too small to accommodate the added flare.

    I ordered the Carnitas tacos to round out the tables selection of tasty tacos in all varieties. All of our entrees arrived after a short wait and a second round of drinks. My tacos were simple: Grilled pork with onions and jalapeó peppers served on a flour tortilla. I loved that you could get them with either corn tortilla or flour depending on your style. So many tacos in NYC use Corn tortillas so the flour option was nice.

    Can’t wait to keep the taco tasting going with my new found friends el Doctore & Taco Slut

  • Camp Yummytaco (Catskills Camping Chicken Tacos) «

    [...] - As the Doc noted in our joint review of Casa Mezcal, pineapple adds a nice sweet to an otherwise savory taco.  For added flavor, throw the pineapple [...]

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