dish buzz: macondo

Restaurants focused on tapas seem to be spreading like that nagging cough in your office – Italian, Spanish, Mediterranean… you name it, it can be found. Macondo is a fairly new addition to this family.

What I love about this place is the simplicity of the set-up. The bar area is off to the right-hand side of the restaurant, overlooking the kitchen and also forming the walkway down the length of the restaurant. This visit, my friend and I opted to sit there, and it proved to be ideal for basking in the wonderful aromas of the food. You would go from the smell of freshly cooked steak and then shortly be greeted by seafood accompanied by vegetables. Everything smelled amazing…

The menu has quite a variety of headings – cocas (flatbreads) to arepas to ceviches to salads… so many options.

My friend managed to convince me to give ceviche another chance, as I conceded that my one other experience might have been an anomaly. We had the salmon ceviche, which was sliced salmon, avocado, and this fabulous soy ginger sauce. Amazing. It came out served in a cocktail glass.

Having never eaten quail, I recommended we try the quail arepa. The arepas at Macondo were very different from those at Caracas (and I have to say, I think I prefer those of Caracas). Macondo’s arepas were more open-face and the base of it was very squishy. Good, but definitely an alternate angle. I didn’t feel like I got my taste of quail though, seeing as it was such a tiny little bit. The figs and spinach that they added to the dish though were a perfect offset to the meat.

After watching them assemble the cocas, we decided to try the “Buenos Aires”, which was grilled skirt steak, jalapenos, onions, chimichurri… amazing. The bread was perfect – almost a fresh carb-y pillow upon which the steak and it’s accompaniments rested. Delicious. I highly recommend.

To cap it off, we tried their French toast. I can’t say I’ve ever had French toast for dessert, but then again, I’m not one to judge French toast, period. It had a thin layer of cream cheese and berries. Perfect-o.

If you’re not hungry, I also recommend stopping in to try a drink off of their inventive drink menu – fairly reasonably priced for drinks in the area. Their Sangria Blanco is also quite tasty. They’ve recently extended their hours and are open until 3AM, rectifying my main complaint from my first visit. Bravo!

Macondo – 158 East Houston Street (between Allen and Eldridge) – 212.473.9900

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