Vendy Rookie Award Finalist Mexicue has only been on the streets for three and a half months, but it already has a reputation. I had heard about the line, sometimes thirty deep at lunch rush hour, and the flavor palate weeks before trying it out for myself. The website corroborated the rumors. Mexicue, the "About Us" section claims, "is the sweet, sweet love child of red-hot Mexican cuisine and down-home, barbeque goodness." Basically, by the time I finally made my way over to Union Square last Wednesday, my hopes were officially up.
I tried two tacos and two sliders. All passed muster on the "sweet, sweet" claim, but I'm not sure I totally buy the one about "red-hot Mexican cuisine"—either on the "red hot" front or on the "Mexican cuisine" front. Not that that's a bad thing. I've never been a purist about Mexican cuisine (as my aunt often reminds me, burritos, my first love, are not Mexican), and I rarely seek out spicy food.
But it bears mentioning that none of the dishes I tried were remotely spicy, and only one could really claim the mantle of Mexican cuisine. All were flavorful, to be sure, but even I could have withstood a few more jalapenos.
For instance, the 'fiery' BBQ sauce that accompanied the BBQ Beet taco ($3.00) wouldn't have set any mouths ablaze. Mild, sweet, and flavorful, this sauce was a wonderful way to dress beets I would have never considered, but with the goat cheese, watercress, greens, and wheat flour tortilla, the dish felt more like a wrap than a Mexican taco, traditional or otherwise.
The oak-smoked short rib taco ($4.00), on the other hand, was by far the most satisfying on the "red-hot Mexican cuisine" front, even if it still didn't come anywhere close to "red-hot." The bright flavors of the aged cheddar and fresh salsas held the juicy and tender pulled meat aloft, but it didn't make them any less sweet.
The sliders had my heart from the moment I saw them: served in pairs with their little mouths open. Unfortunately, the chicken on the pulled chicken slider ($3.00) was a little rubbery. The dish could have been saved by a its deliciously herby BBQ sauce, but the roll—a little stale and yet again, just a tiny bit too sweet—tipped the scales the wrong way. Don't get me wrong: it was still good, just not wonderful.
The meat on the BBQ brisket slider ($3.00, pictured above), while not quite at the level established by the short rib taco, was better--robust and moist with a healthy dose of traditional BBQ sauce. The avocados were all you would expect and the onions were wonderful, heavily marinated in lime juice for a nice acidic kick.
So, here's the skinny: if you're looking for spice, or, for that matter, anything that comes closer to Mexican than using a few typically Mexican ingredients per dish, Mexicue may not be the place for you. That said, Mexicue does serve up its fair share of flavorful and delicious dishes. I'd say its definitely worth a try.
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