Despite being Mexican, the decor of the restaurant, on the most part, did not reflect that. I’m so glad that they decided to go the other route and not focus on cheesy decorations like sombreros or like a fiesta threw up in the place. It was instead warm, chic and whimsical. Mercadito, which is Spanish for "little market", is modeled after the markets chef Patricio Sandoval shopped at while growing up in his native Mexico. It does have that market feel but to compare to our markets it is more Whole Foods and less Sedanos.
By now, my mouth was ready to go in on the food. We started off with our drinks, the margarita tradicional and the el pirata which is made up of beer, tequila, pineapple and spices. The margarita, although traditional was a very well made and presented drink. At full price I would come back to have this. It was very well worth it and probably one of the best margaritas I have ever had, if I can remember correctly. I originally wanted the pepino el pyu but was told that they ran out, even though later on in the meal, I was told it was now available if I still wanted it. I still don’t know if he meant I could just switch or that I could order and pay for a second drink if I wanted to? In any case, I got the el pirata. Being Jamaican, ginger beer is a popular drink, but I am not too fond of it because of the spiciness. Although spicy, the el pirata was not so overpowering so I actually really liked it. It was smooth with a nice kick!
As a part of Miami Spice, we got to select two guacamoles. The first choice was the toreado (sauteéd chile serrano, garlic, oregano, tomatillo pico de gallo) and the second was the pina (grilled serrano, pineapple, mint, tomatillo pico de gallo). I actually preferred and loved the toreado, but my boyfriend, who came to dinner with me, decided to just go in on it and I barely got to eat any of it. Both were good and had nice flavors, but okay isn't good enough for me so I probably wouldn’t order the pina again. That’s the thing with ordering two of something is that if I had not gotten the toreado, the pina might have been better, but toreado just blew pina out of the water. The guacamole was served with tortilla chips. They were very basic and as chips themselves they were alright; I just have had better.
The other starter and to compliment the chips was the mixto ceviche. I meant order a different one and didn't realize what I had done until the food came. The thing is, my boyfriend is one of the people that if he didn't grow up eating something, he is not going to eat it and since it had octopus in it, I already knew what it was. Surprisingly, he tasted it but only picked out the shrimp and ultimately said he didn't like it. Overall it was fine but while eating I kept craving that kick and all I was getting was the sweet from the passion fruit-serrano broth. I need my kick and it was not happening, I just was not wowed on this one.
TACOS!!! I wanted a mix so I got the estilo baja (crispy beer battered mahi mahi, mexican style coleslaw, chipotle aioli), carne (rosemary marinated skirt steak, grilled pear, shaved brussel sprouts, chile de árbol vinaigrette, crispy leeks) and pancita (mole-q pork belly, orange pico de gallo, salsa verde). Being a fish person, I thought the estilo baja was going to be my favorite, but it lacked something for my taste buds. The fish was nicely light and fried but needed a bit of seasoning or if it did, I didn’t taste it. The carne was so good and my favorite. It was sweet and spicy with a taste that made your mouth water. The meat itself was so good, that I could eat it by itself; so tender and perfectly cooked. The pancita was good and had a nice flavor, but I have a taste for crispy pork belly and this did not have that. The carne was so good, that after having that, the pancita didn't compare and I was left unimpressed.
The side we selected for the table was the plátanos machos. It is just fried plantain but came with a jalapeño‐ginger sauce. The plantains were nicely fried, fresh and not overly ripe. I also liked that they were cut at an appropriate size since I hate when they are too thick. At home, I usually cut it a little thinner and it leaves a nice crunch on the edges but these were nice considering I hate them at most places. The sauce added a nice touch.
Even after all of that food, I was still ready for some desert. I selected the morenita de chocolate. Chocolate cake is a bit hard to mess up and the creme and peanuts were a nice touch, but I was left craving ice cream to go with it. It was good, but without the ice cream, it just was not that good.
I enjoyed the food, the ambiance and had a great time. I will definitely come back, but this would be a happy hour, drink and snacks place for me.
3252 NE 1st Ave Miami, FL 33137