Cascabel Taqueria (CLOSED)
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In the eternal food-cred war waged between New York and Cali, the West Coast holds but a single trump card: ubiquitous, excellent tacos. The simple combination of tortilla, meat and fresh fixings has somehow slipped past our most industrious chefs, who’ve busied themselves with revisions of other humble foods (fried chicken, burgers, etc.). So we were delighted when we heard of chef Todd Mitgang’s new taqueria on the Upper East Side. The sunny lime-green walls are adorned with sketches of lucha libre wrestlers; a chalkboard lists the many beers available on tap and by the bottle; and the hip servers, when not utterly overwhelmed, make the counter-service setup feel friendly. But while Cascabel has its share of triumphs, it isn’t the dropkick we needed to knock those Left Coasters against the ropes. Among the starters, you can’t go wrong with a cilantro-heavy guacamole. But a gordita was too fancy for its own good: cloying, honey-slicked pork belly and bland and watery raw cucumber sandwiched between crumbly masa cakes. As for the overstuffed tacos—Cascabel’s strongest draw—we enjoyed the moist carnitas topped with vibrant pickled red onions, and a satisfying tongue version offering braised offal with garlic oil, serrano peppers and onions. Less satisfying was the fried yellowtail variety, the fish lost among its salty and misguided accompaniments (hearts of palm, green olive). And while an entre of hanger steak was beautifully cooked, it was overseasoned with cumin. For dessert, sugary churros nuggets would have been great if they had been fried to order. Sorry, New York. In the bicoastal Mexican grudge match, it seems we’re still facedown on the mat.
1556 2nd Ave
|Transport:||Subway: 6 to 77th St|
|Price:||Two tacos: $7.50. AmEx, Disc, MC, V|
|Opening hours:||Mon–Thu 11:30am–midnight; Fri, Sat 11:30am–1am; Sun 11:30am–midnight|
|Do you own this business?|