I was a big fan of Mission Chinese so Chef Danny Bowien’s second NYC restaurant, Mission Cantina, has been bookmarked for a while. The cuisine is different, but you’ve still got that easygoing Cali vibe. Lots of backwards hats and “yea, man”s.
We started with the sunflower seed guacamole and I recommend you do the same. It’s hard to screw up guac so just get it. You know you want it. Next we ordered the octopus with coconut and avocado. It was quite firy, but the octopus was cooked nicely so I couldn’t stop eating it, even when the plentiful habanero taunted me to give up. If you’re into spice, make sure to order this. The potatoes with smoked chili mayo were almost double fried. I liked the crispiness, but in some bites it meant you got mostly fry and little potato. For the heavier items we ordered the bone marrow fajitas with sweet caramelized onions and cool papaya salad. I very much enjoyed the dish, but the problem is when you get something like fajitas, you’re excited to really build something substantial and there will never be enough marrow on a bone to do that, especially on a shared dish. Finally, we ordered the lamb al pastor tacos. While we may not have gotten enough marrow to adequately fill up three tortillas, these were packed with meat and very satisfying.
Speaking of satisfying, I had probably the best michelada ever at this place. For once, there was enough tomato juice and hot sauce to make me feel like I was drinking a beer cocktail instead of a watered down beer.
It’s tempting to get some of the funkier items on the menu. I mean, who wouldn’t be intrigued by caviar service at a Mexican restaurant? But I think your best bet is sharing the guac, tacos, and, if you’re not afraid of heat, the octopus. That’s the kind of food you want to eat in a fun, pinata filled place anyway.