Does trendy Mexican in Midtown work? We took a First Look...
3252 NE First Ave, Miami
The Goods: Chic, splashy Mercadito Midtown, a New York import, has set up shop in the foothills of Target with the assumption that if you build it, stock with cocktails and fill it with tacos - they will come.
Ambience: Mercadito ("little market" in Spanish) is in theory modeled after a Mexican farmers market. In execution, the 96-seat dining room feels more stylish and shiny than natural and earthy. Dine amid 3-D murals by graffiti artist Erni Vales or score a drink at the 24-seat bar.
The Grub: Traditional southern Mexican cuisine served tapas-style. Translation - platters of tacos wrapped in house-made corn tortillas, sampler trays of guacamole trios and mini bowls of ceviche. Portions are moderately priced ($8.50-$12.50 for guacamoles, $10-$11.50 for ceviches) and sized (leftovers are unlikely). Signature mango guacamole is studded with jicama, chipotle and pico de gallo while pesacdo tacos blend pan-seared tilapia, chile poblano and tomatillo-garlic mojo. Order one (or a few) of the 11 salsas to accompany camaron ceviche (shrimp, tangerine and roasted jalapenos in a citrus-guajillo broth) or crispy flautas stuffed with chicken barbacoa.
The dessert menu stays true to the Mexican vision, with highlights like torregas de bolillo (crème anglaise-soaked Mexican bread with vanilla ice cream), flan de tres leches and mango “ceviche” (mango, cinnamon custard, cookie crumbles and Key lime juice). Spend some time with the cocktail menu. The Tippling Bros. (billed as beverage experts) have created a bevy of fresh fruit margaritas (think tequila reposado with fresh pineapple and cilantro) and Mexican cocktails (the Smokey Pablo blends cien anos reposado, mango, chile morita and blueberry).
Verdict: Innovative cocktails, communal dining and emphasis on authenticity stand out at this Midtown newcomer.
- Buns & Buns serves up bread-based dishes with gastropub leanings in South Miami
- The Prime112 team unveils seafood-centric Prime Fish on South Beach
- Take a "First Look" at 15 Steps: Farm-to-table eats at the Eden Roc
- Chef-owner Rocco Carulli brings R House, a lounge-gallery-restaurant, to Wynwood
- Nothing But the Best delivers elegant simplicity in Brickell
- Fashion designer Roberto Cavalli opens his first Miami restaurant on South Beach
- Seasalt and Pepper brings upscale Mediterranean seafood to the Miami River
- The Quattro & Segafredo teams open Via Verdi Cucina Rustica on Biscayne
- Sugarcane chef Timon Balloo and the Sushisamba restaurant group open Bocce Bar in Midtown
- Bourbon Steak Chef Michael Mina gets clubby with Michael Mina 74 at the Fontainebleau