Dinner at Mercadito

As I mentioned in my post about Tavernita, we were initially trying to go to Mercadito, but the wait was ridiculous. We decided to not take any chances the second time, and we made a reservation for last Tuesday night, after another great Romanian movie, The Silent Wedding.

I initially made a reservation for 4 people, but more people wanted to hang out after the movie so we ended up being 9 in the end. After some complaining, they finally agreed to let us all sit together, provided that we could ONLY order from the sharing menu. We were promised more than enough food, but I’ll come to that later. First, here is a picture of our sitting area taken from Mercadito’s website, same as the picture above.

The sharing menu has four options, priced from $30-$45 and we picked the $35 option since one of our friends recommended the ceviche. For $35 you get 3 types of guacamole (we picked traditional, mango and toreado), 2 types of salsa (habanero and verde), 2 types of ceviche (dorado and mixto), 4 types of tacos (shrimp, mahi-mahi, carnitas and mushroom), 2 sides (plantains and rice and beans), dessert tasting (flan, cheesecake and chocolate cake – we didn’t get to pick these).

First, we placed our drink orders. We ordered some beer, wine and a few cocktails. I had the shady gato (a mezcal cocktail), which for some reason took forever to get delivered. I had to ask our waiter (and some other girl) multiple times. I ordered a second one before we were done eating, and didn’t receive it until after we were done with the dessert. Our waiter was pretty bad, so I am not sure if it was the cocktail (the ingredients looked straightforward) or the bad service that caused these insane wait times.

The food eventually showed up and we got 2 guacamole tasting plates (portions as pictures) and the salsas with 2 small baskets of chips for all 9 guests. The toreado was my favorite, but the traditional one had lots of flavor as well. We were all starving by the time we got our food, so we went through the chips pretty fast. To our surprise the baskets didn’t get refilled. I eventually managed to get someone’s attention and we got another basket, but only for my side of the table.

Both ceviches were pretty tasty and they came with a basket of crackers. For the tacos, we got one taco per person. The shrimp and the carnitas tacos were my favorite, but the other were tasty as well. The sides were nothing special. For the dessert, we got 3 mini-cakes for all of us. I liked the cheesecake because it came with passion fruit sauce, and as I already mentioned I am a little bit (okay, more than a little bit :-)) obsessed with passion fruit.

Overall, the food was good, but I felt it was over-priced. You can get same tasting food at a not-so-trendy Mexican restaurant for a third of the price or less. I also felt that it was little food for a tasting menu. But, overall, I would have been fine with the food, if it weren’t for the horrible-horrible service. For large parties, they get a 20% tip, which was by no means deserved. Our waiter disappeared for most of the time and we had to get the attention of random bus boys to go look for him. The water didn’t get refilled. I was trying to get the attention of 4 (!!!) different bus boys, but they weren’t even looking at the tables. Instead, some of them went out on the patio and looked at the passers-by. I sent a private note to the restaurant through opentable about it, and I delayed this post just in case they would respond, but I haven’t heard from them yet. Overall, the entire staff seemed a bit arrogant, which could lead to a drastic decrease in popularity. There is only so much a trendy decor can do for a restaurant.

I would only recommend it if you’re looking for a spot to have some trendy Mexican snacks and a few drinks with a few friends, but definitely not with a large group. The location is very good, the restaurant is pretty and the atmosphere vibrant, but it is not worth the wait on the weekends for sure.

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