Sunday, January 25, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Mercadito takes on Frontera Grill

Known for killer tacos and margaritas, New York's Mercadito opens a Chicago outpost in River North this spring. (Photo: Mercadito NYC)

We haven't had a New York invasion on the dining scene for a while, so you could imagine how gleeful 312DD was when an Ultimate Insider gave us the scoop on what's popping off this spring:

Union Square hot spot Mercadito—known for killer tacos, margaritas, mole and more—takes over the space quietly abandoned over the summer by La Pomme Rouge.

That's right, it's going to be right down the street from Rick Bayless' flawless Mexican spot Frontera Grill, so it'll be interesting to see how Mercadito takes off when it opens in March or April (that's what they're shooting for).

Mercadito means "little market" in Spanish, and owner/chef Patricio Sandoval's inspiration came from shopping experiences in Mexican markets with his mother as a child. He runs a tight ship in his three New York restaurants, so we're expecting him to bring it.

What we're really looking forward to is Mercadito's signature "tasting" menu, where guests can do samplings of guacamole, ceviche and dessert. But what will likely be the hit in its new home is the taco tasting, with perfectly portioned, savory options like the Pescado (sautéed tilapia, grilled corn, huitlacoche, manchego cheese, tomatillo salsa), Pastor (chile ancho-guajillo rubbed pork, grilled pineapple, chile de arbol salsa) and Estilo Baja (beer-battered Mahi Mahi, Mexican-style cole slaw, chipotle aioli).

That's one showdown we're looking forward to this spring!

She packed her knives . . .


Our girl Radhika Desai of Between Boutique Café & Lounge tells E! Online what she wants to do next, now that she's been booted from "Top Chef":

"I'm going to try to get the cast (of "Slumdog Millionaire") here so I can cook for them [laughs]. It makes me feel like going back to India. My family lives in all those areas that they showed. It's inspired me to go back."