Chicago >Food & Dining > Mercadito
108 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL | Directions 6065441.889430 -87.631597
11:30am - 4pm
Neighborhoods: Near North Side, Central
I don't like to go to Mercadito because it's a little too clubby/sceney for me, but the food is really good so I can push past the scenesters for a great taco. But you won't find me hanging at the bar.
Tasty, spicy mexican food with a fine dining flare. I'm particularly fond of the cocktails, which tend to incorporate peppers.
indredible selection of tequila cocktails and interestinfg tacos; I loved the huitlacoche and the Big Nose drink!
A fun cocktail list and rotating selection of seasonal guacs and tacos make this a must-visit spot in River North.
MERCADITO’S “TACOS FOR STRENGTH” FEATURES – (CHICAGO, October 25, 2010)—Mercadito’s “Tacos for Strength,” a year-long campaign led by Chef Patricio Sandoval, features a taco by a different chef each month to benefit Share Our Strength®. This November, Chef Stephanie Izard—the executive chef of Girl & The Goat, a Boka Group Restaurant, and season four winner of “Top Chef”—will offer a braised chicken taco beginning Monday, November 1 through Tuesday, November 30. The braised chicken tacos, made with avocado crème fraîche, fermented black bean, nicoise olive tapenade and shaved brussel sprouts, will be available for dinner (four per order) for $16. Share Our Strength is a national nonprofit that is striving to end childhood hunger in America by connecting children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. Five percent of the sales from Chef Izard’s taco will be donated to Share Our Strength.
Be sure to keep an eye out for more creative, delicious tacos by some of the country’s most acclaimed chefs:
•December 2010: Michelle Bernstein, Michy’s & Sra. Martinez, Miami
•January 2011: Wylie Dufresne, WD-50, New York
•February 2011: Jimmy Bannos Jr., Heaven on Seven, Chicago & Jimmy Bannos Sr., Purple Pig, Chicago
•March 2011: Michael Schwartz, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Miami
•April 2011: Rodelio Aglibot, New York and Chicago
•May 2011: Michael Fiorello, Mercat a la Planxa, Chicago
•June 2011: Clay Conley, Miami
•July 2011: Peter Hoffman, Savoy, New York
•August 2011: Ryan Poli, Perennial, Chicago
•September 2011: Thomas Buckley, Nobu, Miami
About Share Our Strength
Share Our Strength®, a national nonprofit, is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. Through its No Kid Hungry Campaign™—a national effort to end childhood hunger in America by 2015—Share Our Strength ensures children in need are enrolled in effective federal nutrition programs, invests in community organizations fighting hunger, teaches families how to cook healthy meals on a budget, and builds public-private partnerships to end hunger, both nationally and at the state level. Working closely with the culinary industry and relying on the strength of its volunteers, Share Our Strength hosts innovative culinary fundraising events like Taste of the Nation®, The Great American Bake Sale®, A Tasteful Pursuit®, The Great American Dine Out™, and Operation Frontline®. Visit us online to get involved in the No Kid Hungry Campaign.
About Mercadito Restaurants
Mercadito Restaurants have grown from their first New York City location in 2004 to become a renowned restaurant group specializing in Mexican cuisine and modern taquerias. The popularity of these restaurants can be attributed to the innovative interpretations of traditional Mexican cooking created by Chef Patricio Sandoval, and their partnership with renowned beverage consultants Tippling Bros., who add creativity to their beverage programs merging complex flavors, drinkability, and the unexpected.
The restaurant group currently owns and operates five acclaimed restaurants: Mercadito (New York); Mercadito Grove (New York); Mercadito Cantina (New York); Mercadito (Chicago); Mercadito (Miami); and the soon to be opened Mercadito Taverna (Miami).
A celebration of mediocrity – Upon arrival, we were greeted with the half smile of someone with a superiority complex and told that it would be a wait of 45 minutes to one hour. Not seeing this as an issue (as it was expected), we made our way to the bar.
The bar staff is absolutely superb. They were fast, attentive, very polite, and made excellent drinks! If this place had a primary focus on drinks and a secondary on food, I would have easily given it a much higher rating.
However, as it happens, we were there for the food.
After the first hour of waiting, it became apparent to us and others we had met at the bar, that this restaurant has a ‘help your friends first’ philosophy as we witnessed several people (who did not have reservations) arriving after us and being seated before us.
Finally after a two hour wait – filled with excuses like: “oh, we’re so busy”, and “we had reservations”, we were given a table.
Because of our excessive wait, we were offered free guacamole. This turned out to be the best part of the meal. We had three different types – each better than the last. The tacos, however, were small and really nothing special. Don’t get me wrong, they were better than fast food caliber, but in no way were they worthy of waiting over two hours.
Overall, for me, it was a really bad experience. If you’re looking for ambiance, social activity, and just having a couple of drinks, then I would say to try it. However, I would definitely not recommend this restaurant if you are, in any way, hungry.
Mercadito betrays value. – Many things have delusions of grandeur. People may develop a fake accent like Madonna. Swim towels become Sham-wows, computers become Macs, backwards bathrobes become snuggies, and Mexican restaurants become Mercadito.
For who else but the delusionally-grand would charge 2.50 for a table spoon of salsa? $10.50 for a “tasting” of guacamole? Or $19.50 for a chile relleno? Not even Topolobampo. But before the ridicule, let us cover the compliments of which there are several.
The Chile Relleno was less chile and more tortilla attempting with all its might to hold back a torrent of shrimp, scallops, octopus and other swimming delicacies impatiently bursting from under a layer of melted cheese. I was amazed that $19.50 was all it cost. And the green rice casserole, (¡Dios Mio!) redefined comfort food. (Consider the value of such a statement when uttered by someone for whom all Mexican is comfortable.) But it seems that recently, all good meals have an ugly underbelly. And not necessarily the one that comes printed on the bill. We sneaked a peek at ours with drinks.
My Margarita Tradicional was excellent. Absolutely delicious. Why? Beacuse instead of using 2 parts tequila per 1 part Cointreau, they reversed the formula. Sweeeeeet. But not traditional. And not enough. If you’re going to make weak-tasting drinks, the least you can do is over-serve them. My margarita had enough for 3 sips. No joke. How they got non-crushed ice to look so filling I have no idea. Same problem with the wine. The glass could not have had more than 3 ounces worth. For $10 that’s abusive. The one thing I absolutely loved (enough to plagiarize the idea) is the manner of salting the glass. They dip one side of it low into the salt so that if you want some, you have plenty. If not, drink from the other side. I’m amazed I have not seen this done more often.
The guacamole “tasting” consisted of a traditional and a mole covered. For the latter, someone took a traditional and poured some very average sweet, brown liquid over it that had the remarkable consistency of canned black bean emulsion. However, the habenero salsa (which costs $2.50 per tablespoon) was the highlight of the appetizers. Beware. It’ll make even the grossest entrée swim eagerly down your gullet just to put the flames out.
Finally, even though the restaurant stresses that it is a tapas-style menu, they do indeed have entrées. Thus, when a member of a party orders one, bring it WITH the tapa that’s serving as the other entrée and not 10 minutes later. Overall, the meal was a disappointment not in taste but in value. With places like Province and Tocco recently opened, spending over $100 for some good but mostly overpriced Mexican food is not competetive. There was no part of the meal that should not have cost less.
Clubby spot for late-night Mexican food and cocktails. – There's no mistaking the fiesta vibe at this lounge-y River North restaurant, with its low lighting, club-ready beats, graffiti-inspired artwork and large, leather-wrapped bar doling out colorful, tequila-based cocktails. However, the food certainly isn't suffering from neglect. A stylish, 20- and 30-something crowd lingers into the wee morning hours, noshing on market-fresh renditions of Mexican street food staples like seviches, guacamoles and a dozen gourmet tacos, including skirt steak with grilled cactus, savory peanut-topped pork carnitas with cured onions and wild mushrooms with salsa verde.
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