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?

 

The Gorbals

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So, I was hearing a lot of buzz about newcomer to Williamsburg, The Gorbals. I also heard it was inside of an Urban Outfitters. My curiosity got the better of me, and I had to check it out for myself.

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To lessen any confusion on how to get to the restaurant itself, step one, look for Urban Outfitters. Step two, hook a right to the elevator once you enter and hit #3 floor. Alternatively, there are stairs right before the elevator, you can take those too. Hey, you made it! The restaurant is rustic and charming, and…yup, open kitchen. My heart.

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And, like I said, it’s inside a store. Peek through the wall paneling and you can shop with your eyes. The menu encourages you to share dishes, and so, I did.

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But to start, I ordered The Son of a Gun (mezcal, tequila, pear puree, lime, almond syrup, mole bitters). This was a great drink. As many mezcal cocktails as I’ve had before, I hadn’t had one with pear puree. Why the hell have I not had one before this? It was fantastic. You have a little hint of smokiness from the mezcal, a little citrus from the lime, and then to smooth and sweeten it out, but not too sweet, is the pear and almond syrup.

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Then, there were four dishes ordered to share. To start, I had the Broccoli (soy, chilies, vinegar). Perfection. The broccoli is charred, giving it a great, light, crispy texture on the florets. At the same time, it also acts as a little sponge, soaking up the soy and vinegar sauce, giving it an incredible flavor.

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After that, I had Grilled Shishitos (charred eggplant). The peppers were mild, and had a tiny bit of charring on the outside, giving it a nice, smoky flavor. But, the best part of the dish was actually the charred eggplant, which was a pureed sauce underneath the shishitos. It was a little sweet, a little smokey, and also savory. Basically, it was delicious. 

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Next, was the Octopus (za’atar, olives, pine nuts). The octopus is is served as one piece, with a delicious tahini-like sauce on the plate, confected with pine nuts and topped with the fried olives. By the way, olives should always be fried. The octopus itself was amazing, it was plump, tender, and had a wonderful flavor, which was enhanced by the za’atar. 

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Last of the dishes was the Black Bass (radish, watermelon, bonito butter). This dish was a dream. The bass was so light, delicate and flavorful. If this were offered as an entree sized portion, I would order this every time as my main meal. The radish and watermelon salad was a perfect compliment, adding some sweetness and crunch, but also topped with a yogurt dressing, adding an herby and creamy element to the dish. 

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So, that was the last of the savory dishes, but since everything was so incredible, I had to go for one of their desserts. I had Sticky Toffee Pudding (black pepper ice cream, maldon salt). Unreal. This was so good, and perfectly portioned. The cake itself is light, warm, and coated and soaked with a rich, thick, toffee sauce, sprinkled with large granules of the salt, emulating a salted caramel. Topping the dessert is a black pepper ice cream, both sweet and a little spicy at the same time, which, to me, is a wonderful combination. Each component here went together so well, it was the perfect finish to the meal. 

The Shorts:
Name: The Gorbals
Location: 98 North 6th Street, Brooklyn
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Absolutely. Everything was on-point from the service, so the drinks, to the food. Oh, and they had a pretty killer hip-hop playlist going on.
Would I recommend it? Definitely. And, they have a rooftop that I’ll need to check out. You can order drinks and snacks up there, and then, you can go down to the main level and go shopping at Urban Outfitters. Day complete.