Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cascabel Taqueria Review

I don't often make it to the Upper East Side for food. But sometimes the location can't be helped and you need a good meal. So, after reading Serious Eats' strong recommendation, I settled on Cascabel Taqueria for a recent lunch with a friend. We decided to share a few dishes to maximize our ability to sample the menu.

To start, we each got a small paper bag with what essentially amounted to a giant tortilla chip sprinkled with chili powder.

We ordered the blue crab and corn fritters with fresh salsa, piquillo pepper aioli and sopa de tortilla, listed under the "To Start" section. But strangely, all our food came out at once. My dining companion and I were both drawn to this by the mention of blue crab. But these crispy balls were a bit too dark, so fried that the flavors were muddled. The dish was a bit skimpy on the sauce, but the tomato salsa was refreshing.

I had seen the photo of the Cemita Poblano on the Serious Eats post and knew that it would be a must-order. It was a huge mound of shredded berkshire pork butt on a thick bun. It came with champagne mango, oaxaca cheese, queso fresco, smashed avocado and aioli papalo. This was a messy, complex sandwich, but the pork was tender and well-seasonsed. This was the best choice of the meal.

We got the roasted shrimp tacos topped with fresh oregano, garlic, chili oil and black bean. The shrimp were entirely overcooked. I used to think I didn't like shrimp until I realized that not all shrimp is cooked the way it is in much Chinese food — to the point where it's pretty rubbery and tasteless. Unfortunately, the shrimp in these tacos reminded me of that.

Overall, the lunch was fine, but it's quite a walk from the subway, one that I wouldn't say is worth it. I'd rather head to the new Shake Shack.

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