Mercadito

May 30th, 2012: As seen on (PDF)


“Tasting” quartets of tacos explode with flavors that put local taquerias to shame, like the michoacan braised pork of the carnitas, balanced by chile de arbol coleslaw for heat and toasted peanuts, begged to be sipped with more than 100 tequilas, and close relatives mezcal and sotol.

Served in the strongest shot glass known to man, and backed by a citrus, tomato and chile palate refresher called sangrita, conquest is not a poor word for what this NYC hit is capable of doing to Chicago’s high-end Mexican map.

It’s not that chef Patricio Sandoval is any Rick Bayless, with the same flavors that make the tacos completely lost in every guacamole attempt and falsely teased in para acompanar (side dishes) like the ginger-jalapeno crema touched fried plantains. And faults abound at the bar with fruit-forward cocktails sourced from mixologist behemoth the Tippling Bros., hit with 20-minute delays when slammed. It’s that in a city with the second largest Mexican community outside of L.A., Sandoval’s struck gold downtown, where good late-night taquerias are still rarely treading.