Tacos at Calexico LES – NYC
If you haven’t heard, the ever-popular “MexiCali” taco cart, Calexico, opened a restaurant on the Lower East Side in the old Bondi Road spot. I’ve always been a fan of the SoHo cart, but didn’t go as often as I liked due to its location (too far from the Q for lunch). Now with lunch and dinner service and a liquor license to boot, is it worth the trip?
So far I’ve been once for lunch, and for a quick, casual meal, I’d say yes. On my visit, I ordered three tacos: the Gringo, the Baja Fish, and the Carne Asada. The Gringo (pictured top-left; $3), ancho-cumin ground beef, lettuce, Monterey Jack cheese, pico de gallo, and sour cream in a hard corn tortilla, by all appearances was your standard hard shell chain taco, but taste-wise, it was much better. Unexpectedly and gratefully, the cumin flavor was very pronounced. Not spicy cumin lamb burger pronounced, but not too far from it. It was a nice surprise.
The Carne Asada (pictured top-right; $4), marinated hanger steak, avocado sauce, and pico de gallo in a soft corn tortilla was my least favorite. It was disappointing since the steak used to be my favorite from the cart. At the restaurant, for some reason, the meat was tough and chewy. Hopefully, it was a one day fluke.
My favorite was the Baja Fish (pictured left; $4.50), beer battered fish, spicy slaw, mango salsa, and chipotle “crack” sauce in a soft corn tortilla. The fish was moist with a golden, crisp shell, and while the crack sauce wasn’t hot enough to contend with the sweetness of the mango salsa, the six-pack of hot sauces nearby — the hot sauce bottles are provided in cardboard beer carriers — more than accomplished the deed.
For the price, all the tacos are on the smallish side, but you’ll be happy to know the prices are the same as the cart with the addition of more tacos on the menu such as the Baja fish. Tables, alcohol, and more tacos… need I say more?