Hai Street Kitchen

230 Park Ave. New York, NY 10169 haistreetkitchen.com

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Have you ever found yourself eating a maki and thought, “hmm, if only this could be 20 times bigger? If the answer is yes, then you are about to go cuckoo for cocoa puffs, because that’s essentially the concept of Hai Street.

For example, the Slammin’ Salmon is not only fun to say, it’s also made with raw salmon tataki, rice, shredded carrots and cucumbers, gouchujong sauce and for two bucks extra wasabi guacamole, all wrapped in seaweed and cut in half so it looks like a pair of maki pieces gone preggers.

But is it any good you ask? Very. As is the lemonade and iced green tea, which I mixed to create, you guessed it, an Arnold Palmer. I’m so damn predictable.

3 teeth

Mexicue

345 7th Ave. New York, NY 10001(212) 244-0002mexicue.com

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Before you delve into this review, a bit of recalibration might be necessary, because from the name you are probably expecting to hear about a burrito or a taco. Maybe a quesadilla. But that’s not entirely how Mexicue rolls. So neither did I. Instead, I got the brisket chili over a salad comprised of blackened Brussels sprouts and kale. And while it sounds amazing, it only truly reached its potential with a healthy dose of Choula on top. Otherwise it was a desperado in need of some kick.

To drink I had the Arnold Palmero which was also a touch off. Too sweet for my tastes. And I just don’t understand why places do that. Lemonade is inherently tart. Tea is inherently bitter. So sure, maybe you sweeten one or the other to balance things out a touch, but not both! You’re defeating the whole purpose of Arnie Palmer’s invention!

2 teeth

Calexico

153 Rivington St. New York, NY 10002 • (646) 590-4172 calexico.net
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Seeing the lines, I had such high hopes for this place, but I gotta say, I have no idea what people are talking about. The burritos are FAR from “huge.” Go to Chipotle, Benny’s, Blockheads… Those are huge. These are more… what’s the word? Diminutive. So much so that when I brought it back to the office, a guy I work with commented on how surprisingly small it was- so it’s not just me bitching.

And as for flavor- “crack sauce?” Implying something is so good it’s as addictive as crack? Sorry, but they must’ve forgotten to put it on mine, because it was flavorless. I wound up drowning the thing in hot sauce just to make it worth eating. If you want a truly addictive burrito experience try Tres Carnes.

But whatever you do, please don’t waste your time standing on line, only to then wait around another 15 minutes for your mediocre order to be made. There’s a Chipotle just down the street and it’s bigger, faster and better.

1 tooth

The Ultimate Burrito

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Tres Carnes – New York, NY

It’s hard to imagine that a burrito can be complex, but I assure you the legend is true. And while most wind up tasting like varying degrees of mush all mushed together in different configurations, Tres Carnes manages to create a separation between its painstakingly layered flavors, while also preserving that same mushy harmony you’ve come to know and love in a burrito. So how do they do it, well, for starters, their quac is smoked. So, you get that typical avocado creaminess, but as an added bonus, a hit of smokiness too, which, when paired up with the pork shoulder or brisket only complements the meat. Or instead of just rice, it’s poblano rice, packing a little heat. Yes, nothing is just filler in this puppy. From the chipotle squash to the street cart corn. It’s like mariachi in your mouth, assuming you like mariachi. But don’t discount this as a hoity-toity burrito for city folk, because it ain’t. I’ve eaten in some seriously authentic (aka down and dirty) Mexican haunts in my day and they can kiss Tres Carnes’ delicious buttocks.