Mission Cantina

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I’ve said it once, twice, three times a lady, or man, and I’ll say it again. I could eat Mexican food, just about every day. And, yes, Mexican food here in the states varies, where you’ll get authentic Mexican cuisine, to Tex-Mex, and, a chef’s interpretation of Mexican food. Which ever it is, I usually love it all. And, when you can also find Chinese influenced dishes on the menu as well? I’m intrigued, and in. So, I went to Mission Cantina in the Lower East Side. 

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Although the restaurant itself isn’t large, it packs in a lot of personality. Even though the lighting is dimmed, there are electric colored lights and bright decor to make the space more dynamic. Throw in a big screen playing movies (Clueless was the selection on my evening) and an “open kitchen” (closed in, but only by a glass window to watch the magic happen), and we’re having a party. Ok, so, we’ve got Clueless playing and a menu with Smashing Pumpkins on it, I was thrown right back to my childhood. And then I saw a group of 19 year olds sitting across from me and realized they probably have no idea what any of this is. Sad. Anyway, to drink away my sorrows of feeling old, I ordered the 49ER (tequila blanco, lemon, smoked habanero, honey). This drink was amazing. It had the perfect balance of sweetness and spice, making it somewhat of a spicy margarita, with a twist. 

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To start, I had their Sunflower Seed Guacamole. I really loved this, especially since I’m a real fan of foods with different texture components. You have the freshness of the diced tomato, creaminess of the avocado, and the crunch from the sunflower seeds. The chips were awesome too, blue corn, thick and crisp, with a nice sprinkling of spice on top.  

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For my entree, I opted to go for the Chinese menu side, and went for the Salt and Pepper Fish Filet Over Rice. I was really pleased with my decision on this one. First off, the portions here are huge, which is pretty awesome, since I’d say it’s near to impossible that you’ll leave feeling hungry. In fact, you could probably pack up half of it for another meal. On top of a large bed of sticky white rice, is a generous portion of fish, lightly battered and fried, liberally seasoned with salt and pepper. The pieces of fish are delicate in flavor, but super delicious. Slight caution with this one though, it’s pretty spicy, which, I loved, but, should be thrown out there. A good cure is to fight spice with spice, so, just take a few extra sips of a 49ER.

The Shorts:
Name: Mission Cantina 
Location: 172 Orchard Street, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Definitely. And when I do, I’ll switch it up and order some tacos or one of their massive burritos. 
Would I recommend it? For sure. The service is great, the food is delicious, they’re throwing 90’s all over the place, what’s not to like?

 

Han Dynasty

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After a few failed attempts, I finally made it to Han Dynasty in the East Village. This Chinese restaurant opened a number of months ago, but, since they don’t take reservations, it’s all first come first serve. And, lots of people are lining up to be served there. So, since waiting an hour and a half wasn’t really in the cards, I decided to go for an early dinner and beat the crowd. Mission accomplished. 

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The restaurant’s decor is simple, but each table is set with attention, and a hot pot of green tea is dropped off right away. They have their entrees numbered in terms of spice level. There was a “10”, and, believe me, I wanted to order that. But, I didn’t want to be too ambitious, so, I went for a “7” and ordered Hot Sauce Style with Fish (stir fried with cabbage and celery in an authentic Sichuan chili oil hot sauce). So, the portion is huge, I guess it’s meant to share? But, I like ordering my own thing, so, I ended up with some left-overs. Served with a side of white rice, this dish was certainly a spicy 7 (I love spice, but I’m glad I didn’t order the 10). It has great flavor, and the fish is bountiful and delicious. 

The Shorts:
Name: Han Dynasty 
Location: 90 Third Avenue, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? For sure, and, on a bitterly cold day, I’m going in for that “10”.
Would I recommend it? Yes, I’d recommend going on the earlier side if you’d like to be seated relatively quick. Or, they have a text system, so, show up, give them your number, grab a drink somewhere nearby, and you’ll be texted when your table is ready.