Cascabel Taqueria – Can Upper East side really do Mexican?

Photo Source: Cascabel Taqueria

Since I just moved to the Upper East Side, I’ve been trying to explore my new hood so I can find all my new favorite go-to restaurants, and the perfect opportunity came up this past weekend. My friend and I were in desperate need of something tasty and a good drink after a couple hours at The Met. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all about immersing myself in culture and the arts, but after a couple of hours of Andy Warhol, Bernini, and ancient Egyptian art, I needed to unwind! We walked down towards the east side and stumbled upon Cascabel Taqueria, which I had walked by on a couple of occasions and had been meaning to try out. We both love Mexican food and Margaritas so it was a no-brainer.

It was a Saturday night, and the place was pretty packed which is always a good sign. We lucked out though and got a table right away, and were greeted by the most talkative waiter I have yet encountered in NYC. When we told him we had never been here before, he literally went through the entire menu with us giving us his explanations and recommendations. He was very detailed and thorough, and he did give good suggestions I must admit. We started with the Guacamole Tradicional con Tostada which was presented in a metal tray which I thought was quite interesting. Also it did not come with normal tortilla chips, but instead with a full round tostada which you then could break apart yourself. It made for a cleaner and more high end looking plate, but for the sake of convenience, was kind of annoying. The guacamole itself was delicious, it was creamy (barely any discernible chunks so I’m not sure where the tomatoes, chili de arbol, garlic, etc. went) and very fresh.  We ordered it medium, but it really tasted very mild to me so if you want more of a kick definitely ask for the hot. To accompany our starter, I had the Cucumber Cilantro Margarita (made with organic tequila – who knew that even existed?) which was very light and refreshing, I was worried that the cilantro would overpower the drink, but it was just the right balance. It was served in a mason jar which I thought was a cool little twist.

On to the entrees, our server had warned us that you can’t mix and match your tacos so if you want to try two different kinds you’d each have to order one and share. So that’s exactly what we did! We decided on the Pollo Chipotle (amish chicken, avocado, green onion, chicken chicharron) and the Carnitas (slow roasted berkshire pork butt {haha still makes me laugh}, pickled red onion, roasted chili de arbol, and crispy rice) tacos. The tacos were small, soft corn and served in twos without any sides, so we added on Quinoa y Frijoles (queso cotija, queso fresco, onion and cilantro) as an accompaniment. I preferred the Carnitas taco, it was tastier and the pork was very tender. The Pollo was a little dry, and coupled with the dryness of the corn tortilla was lacking some flavor. I doused both of my tacos with some salsas they had on the table – one was a tomatillo, and the second a roasted tomato. Without the addition of the salsas, the tacos would have been a little bland for my taste. The quinoa y frijoles were quite good though, I had never had quinoa with black beans before so this was a first, and I was very pleased. The quinoa basically became incorporated into the black beans and melded well with the cheeses.

Overall an average dining experience, and I will continue to look for my go-to Mexican!

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ 

Cascabel Taqueria – 1538 2nd Avenue

Cascabel Taqueria on Urbanspoon

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