50 Carmine Street, West Village
Since opening in May 2008, Cabrito has been a media darling. With the popular Fatty Crab getting rave reviews, Zak Pelaccio opened this Mexican joint featuring haute tacos and drinks. It possible that Cabrito has been over-hyped with high praise from everyone from the NY Times to Time Out. While the bar scene was good when we visited on Thursday evening, the food was not ultra-impressive. Our guacamole and chips app was tasty. The guac was creamy with just the right amount of heat and the chips were made on the premises. It’s a great starter with a few drinks. The fish tacos on the other hand were just adequate. The fish was beer battered and fried, which masked all of its flavor. Instead, the single corn tortilla (I prefer doubled) was filled with an exorbitant amount of red cabbage and topped with a creamy unidentifiable sauce. It wasn’t terrible, but certainly not authentic or delicious. I also ordered their signature goat taco (see large pink goat photo). It was better than the fish taco, with a strong meaty flavor, similar to greasy dark meat turkey. It was good, but more of a novelty, and would not replace a quality pork or carne asada filling in my opinion. So while Cabrito wasn’t my favorite, it certainly has it’s followers and dark trendy vibe that will keep it packed for years. I can appreciate that, but will continue my search for fish tacos elsewhere…
333 Lafayette at Bleecker, East Village
Pinche Taqueria is the complete opposite of Cabrito. It is small hole-in-the-wall that is easily missed on a triangular shaped block outside the Bleecker Street 6 train stop. The space is small, but cool with entrances on either side of the narrow space. Even though the decor is tacky with plastic Mexican kitch on the walls, it somehow has an authentic air about it. The staff is friendly and the food is first priority. While it is hard to give Pinche a full review considering I only had a pair of fish tacos and sat outside on a bar stool, and was too hungry to take photos, I can still tell that this place is a winner. The fish taco was delicious. The fish, probably tilapia, was moist and flavorful with the standard toppings of lettuce, radish, cheese, etc. and was delivered in a double corn tortilla – as it absolutely should be. Plus, it was only $3.95 a piece, in contrast to Cabrito’s $6. I also recently read that Time Out recommends its Huevos Rancheros for brunch. While Pinche will never get the hype of a Cabrito, if you want inexpensive, authentic Mexican street fare, this is a winner. Although if I had to pick, I still prefer the fish tacos at Taqueria Downtown in Jersey City.