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  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Latin/Mexican East Village Cheap Eats Good

I stopped by at Mercadito last week, and had a lovely meal with a serenade by the bartender, a very sexy guy from Cuba, who was playing the bongos in between pouring drinks. He’s got rhythm and a great smile. The place is owned by Darin Rubell, Steve Rubell’s nephew, and Richard Sandoval’s brother Patricio Sandoval, so there’s some lineage here. The place feels like an old seaside hacienda, probably because the thatched roof was imported from Mexico, and the clay walls are painted saffron yellow so they appear to have been weathered by the blazing Mexican sun. The menu is small but fresh, tasty and cheap. Bright and perky ceviches are served with saltines, as they are in Mexico, but the saltines here are made in house and served in a bowl, in ragged shards. They have a nice sweet-salty bite that pairs up well with a scoop of citrus-soaked ceviche like shrimp bathed in pineapple, Serrano, coconut milk, mint and lime juice ($8), or wild salmon with pickled jalapenos, orange, capers and horseradish cucumber sauce ($8). The tacos were quite tasty as well—especially the tacos al pastor—soft homemade corn tortillas filled with melting chunks of ancho-guajulla chile-rubbed pork and topped with juicy grilled pineapple and chile de arbol salsa ($7.50). There’s also some good guacamole ($7.50), and a few quesadillas, though they are fried and a bit heavy, and some terrific deserts, especially a bananas foster gone the way of Mexico. I like this little joint. It’s got a chill, lazy Mexico-by-the-sea vibe and a menu of good eats to boot. (Almost as good as Barrio Chino, but not quite.) But do check it out.

Mercadito is located at 179 Avenue B (b/w 11th and 12th Streets), 212-529-6493.

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