As a foodie, it’s always exciting when a new and potentially amazing restaurant opens. It’s even more exciting when that new restaurant opens in your neighborhood. I was anxiously awaiting the day when MXco would open its doors ever since I saw the slip of paper on the window announcing the impending arrival of a Mexican restaurant in the recently shuttered Vynl on 78th and 2nd.
I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to try a trendy restaurant on its opening weekend so Dave and I made sure to wrangle Dana and Simon out of their Upper West apartment this Saturday. We weren’t too hungry, so when they told us it could be an hour wait, we walked into a bar across the street for a drink. Thankfully, the hour wait was actually only about 25 minutes and we were soon seated in our booth amidst a graffiti covered wall and neon liquor bottle chandeliers. The decor sounds cheesy, but it was tastefully done and I was thankful to have a funkier restaurant in the more conservative UES ‘hood.
While the margaritas looked amazing and massive, we decided to take the more cost effective sangria approach and were happy to find that it was delicious (the strawberries were a nice touch). Even more delish was the food. From the moment they put the chips and salsa on the table, I knew I was in for a good meal. I know you must be thinking that every Mexican restaurant places a complimentary basket of chips and salsa on the table so this is no big deal, but this salsa had a touch of cream and was ultra-yummy. We devoured our basket in under 2 minutes. We decided to share a plate of chorizo nachos for the table. Wonderful. Ample amounts of melty cheese and meat. They also topped the dish with jalapenos to add a little spice, but they were pickled and, therefore, not too overpowering. For the main courses, Dave tried a carnitas burrito, Dana and Simon got fajitas (shrimp and steak, respectively), and I got 2 orders of tacos (Grilled Mahi-Mahi with aioli, cheese, and salsa and chicken with guac and pineapple salsa). As I re-read that sentence, I realize I sound like a Fatty Boom Batty, but let me warn you, the taco portions are small. Although the tacos come two to an order, they are tiny, and I was right to order 2. The other entrees are definitely of adequate size. In fact, the burrito came with enough rice and beans to serve as a meal in itself.
One downside: the dessert. The dessert selection at Mexican restaurants is usually pretty sparse and non-varied, so we were excited to see some inventive after-dinner options. We ordered both the chocolate cake and the flan. The chocolate cake was a bad decision. It should be stricken from the menu and we told the waitress so. The flan had a great flavor but was not actually flan. In a dessert identity crisis, it couldn’t decide if it was a flan, creme brulee, or cheesecake. I loved the taste, but I know that Dave – a true flan fan – was disappointed that he didn’t get the flubber-like substance he expected.
Overall, I recommend MXco. It may not be in the super hip LES area, but it is situated in the middle of a great UES strip of bars on 2nd Ave. It’s also a less expensive and probably tastier alternative to Rosa Mexicana or Dos Caminos. Though the portions are not huge (except for the margaritas), the amount of food is satisfying and for once I left a Mexican restaurant without feeling like a forklift was required to get me out the door.