A few weeks back, I found myself with some friends in the West Village, wandering around after a trapeze class in search of a dinner option which wouldn’t require reservations. We walked past Mexicana Mama, a restaurant I’d always been curious to try but at which I’d yet to eat. Looking in, we could tell there’d be a wait, but we decided to wait it out.
There’s not a true bar area. Instead, there’s a long high counter along the left-hand side of the restaurant, with the tables for the main seating area located on the right. As we waited, we enjoyed their margarita of the day (watermelon) and an order of chips and salsa. I liked that they gave you a choice of salsa with the order – mild, medium, or spicy. We went mild and it was quite good. Interestingly enough it was a very smooth texture – no lumps at all, and was creamy. We couldn’t place what caused the creaminess. And the margarita had fresh watermelon in it. Perfect.
For my main, I went with one of their daily specials – spicy fish tacos. I love me some fish tacos, but there are two ways they typically go wrong for me. First, they’re usually fried. I can’t explain why, but I just don’t want anything fried on my tacos, even if I’m a Southerner. It’s just distracting. Second, they usually are accompanied by very mild sauces, oftentimes downright flavorless.
And here’s where Mama got it especially right. The fish was light and flaky and, most importantly, entirely free of batter. Yes! And, as I expected based on the description on the specials board, it indeed was spicy. The fish was topped with onions, corn, a light dusting of cheese, and a habanero sauce, wrapped in a fresh tortilla. Why doesn’t anyone else do this? Why is it so hard to find it? BECAUSE IT’S SO GOOD! I guess motivation for me to make it myself, or come back and gamble it’s on the menu again. Hmmm.
I passed on the other dish which caught my eye in large part because I’d just been to Havana Central the weekend before and had the same dish, which is Queso Fundido con Chorizo. The portion size at around $17 is plentiful, and is served with fresh tortillas. I’d recommend splitting between two. You can even get them to do half chorizo and half rajas poblanos. Nice option.
Mexicana Mama – 525 Hudson St (between 10th St & Charles St) – 212.924.4119