Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dinner and Margarita Specials at Tacocina

Tacocina
714 9th Avenue
New York, NY
(212) 730-1860 | Map

I came to an amazing - yet obvious - realization earlier this evening. I do a lot. Those who know me well are still amazed by how much I manage to pack into one day/week/month. And I'm often asked, "Is there anything you don't do?" With that said, I have to tell you what a blessing it is knowing that, each month, I can unwind with my friends Kym and Brian as we try yet another new-to-us restaurant. I've written about our "Lehigh Dinner Club" adventures before (The Park; Blue Smoke; Pao!; Heidelberg Restaurant), and now it's time to write another.

It was up to Kym to choose our February restaurant. Just by looking at the restaurant's website, I could tell that Tacocina was a great pick because of their drink specials (and in this economy, specials are key). We'd be dining right in the middle of their Happy Hour and would get to enjoy $5 frozen margaritas. Just be careful, they're really strict about the time frame (5pm-8pm), so make sure you order your drink before 8pm! The dinner menu is quite extensive, and we all had some difficulty deciding what we wanted to eat. Thankfully, we were provided with the complimentary basket of chips and a dish of salsa to snack on while we made up our minds.

Tacos Dorados at Tacocina in New York, NY - Photo by Taste As You Go
Tacos Dorados at Tacocina in New York, NY

I started with the Tacos Dorados ($8.50), three corn fried tortillas, served with chicken, topped with sour cream, cabbage, cotija cheese, and Mexican salsa. These were delicious and the heat from the salsa helped me wash down the first of two margaritas I'd drink that night. Next time, though, I'd ask for a little less sauce on top. The Tacos Dorados didn't need all of that sauce and by time I got to the last bites of the dish, the tortillas were soggy.

Chicken Quesadilla at Tacocina in New York, NY - Photo by Taste As You Go
Chicken Quesadilla at Tacocina in New York, NY

Kym started with the Grilled Chicken Quesadilla ($10.95), served with guacamole, jalapenos, and sour cream. The quesadilla wasn't greasy at all and was stuffed with just the right mixture of chicken and cheese. I felt badly for Kym, though, because she kept dipping her finger in the dollop of sour cream that was on the plate as she picked up wedges of the quesadillas. She and I aren't fans of sour cream, so I can commiserate with her disgust (too strong?) at knowing that sour cream was on her hand rather than on the plate.

Chips, Guacamole, and Margarita at Tacocina in New York, NY - Photo by Taste As You Go
Chips, Guacamole, and Margarita at Tacocina in New York, NY

Brian went for the Guacamole ($9.50), made with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and garlic and served with tortilla chips. As you can see by the picture, the guacamole is presented very nicely in a bowl with a face, but Tacocina doesn't give you that much of it for $9.50 they're asking you to pay. While very good (in my opinion), I think Brian and I both agree that Tacocina's version of guacamole paled in comparison to the guacamole we had at Rosa Mexicano a while back (pre-Lehigh Dinner Club).

Drunken Nachos at Tacocina in New York, NY - Photo by Taste As You Go
Drunken Nachos at Tacocina in New York, NY

As I mentioned earlier, I had a really hard time deciding what I wanted for my entree. Rather than agonize over the decision, I just relied on my stomach to tell me what I wanted. Turns out I was craving nachos, so I ordered another item from the Appetizer menu as my "main course". I picked the Drunken Nachos ($10.50), served with black beans, Jack and cheddar cheese, jalapenos, guacamole, sour cream (I skipped that part), tomatoes, and tequila lime chicken. I've never had nachos served this way before, but as I was eating them, I realized that piling the toppings on each tortilla chip like that was brilliant! You get a little bit of everything in each bite without having to worry about being left with a pile of toppings but no chips at the end! I ordered wisely because the Tacos Dorados and the Drunken Nachos provided just the right amount of food for me.

Mango Chicken at Tacocina in New York, NY - Photo by Taste As You Go
Mango Chicken at Tacocina in New York, NY

Kym threw me off-guard when she ordered the Mango Chicken ($16.50)*, as she had talked about wanting to order the Taco Salad ($10.50). The chicken was grilled, covered with a mango sauce with green peppers, and served with rice and vegetables. The bit I tried was so good. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the mango sauce wasn't overly sweet, just a great combination of flavors that didn't result in something that was heavy. Great choice! I might have to get that next time.

Tampico Steak at Tacocina in New York, NY - Photo by Taste As You Go
Tampico Steak at Tacocina in New York, NY

Brian steered away from the chicken options on the menu in favor of the beef options (no pun intended) and ordered the Tampico Steak ($18.50). A grilled skirt steak is served with a cheese enchilada, guacamole, and jalapenos and rice and beans. Kym and I didn't get to try the steak (oops), but it did look a little odd to me presented like that. I didn't see the point of putting the enchilada on top of the steak. Then again, I'm not sure the dish would have looked any better with the lone enchilada laying next to the steak. I think Brian enjoyed it, but I don't think he was wowed. I'm hoping he leaves a comment here and gives us a more in-depth review of his dinner!

By the end of our meal, we were all happily stuffed and happily buzzed by all the margaritas we drank. If you're looking for a decent Happy Hour that also offers you the chance to try a delicious assortment of Mexican fare, then try Tacocina. And, if you're not distracted by the thought of eating yummy Mexican food, then you should enter Taste As You Go's Amazing Taste® Seasoning Packet Giveaway if you haven't already! Deadline to enter is 11:59pm EST on Saturday, March 14, 2009!

* I think the prices listed online are different than the prices at the restaurant. For some reason, I thought the Mango Chicken cost more.

Tacocina on Urbanspoon

Margarita on Foodista

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6 comments:

Kimberly said...

I think the Mango Chicken was $17.50, but it wasn't too far off...

Michelle said...

Kym - Good, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks the prices were higher on the restaurant menu!

Nila Rosa said...

This reminds me of the many times that my florida roommates and I hit up chevy's for their happy hour. We always ordered huge margaritas for $3.

The tacos dorados looks great. Too bad about the sogginess tho.

modulo31 said...

$5 margaritas were definitely the draw at Tacocina in a very customer-friendly 3-hour long Happy Hour. Too often Happy Hour ends at 6 or 7. And the draw of cheap beverage was vindicated by their deliciousness. You'll develop a thirst you didn't know you had.

After 8pm, it was $9 margaritas, served in a different glass (about the same amount). It was hard to complain, though; they were still just as tasty.

As for food, I thought the straight-up Mex options were the best. Michelle is right: I was eh about the steak. I usually shy away from tropical fruit in my meat, but I thought Kym's mango chicken was balanced and pretty awesome overall.

I would definitely go back for another Happy Hour, then get hungry and eat a lot of drunken nachos. :)

Go to Rosa Mexicano (62nd St & Columbus) for guacamole.

For skirt steak (churrasca), go to Cabana's Latino Nuevo in the South Street Seaport, Chimichurri Grill (9th Ave and 44th St), or one of the fine churrascarias in Manhattan or Astoria.

Michelle said...

Nila Rosa - I've been to Chevy's! I went there with some girlfriends back in February for margaritas and pickin's before we went to see "He's Just Not That Into You". You can track my restaurant progress with my restaurant Google map!

Despite the amount of sauce on the Tacos Dorados, I think some of the sogginess could have been prevented if I ate a little bit faster! ;-)

Michelle said...

modulo31 - "You'll develop a thirst you didn't know you had." Amen.

Thanks for the recommendations of restaurants that offer tasty skirt steak!