By Dane Feldman
Photos by Dane Feldman.
Cascabel Taqueria has two locations in Manhattan, one on the East Side and one on the West Side. This review focuses on the location at the intersection of 108th Street, West End Ave, and Broadway in the Upper West Side.
I first tried Cascabel Taqueria about six months ago on an especially frigid night when I was looking for delivery. I ordered the carne asada burrito (sliced Yucatan achiote marinated hanger steak with chipotle rice, black beans, pico de gallo, queso fresco, and a side of creme), which was served with hefty supply of delicious sweet potato fries. The burrito held up well and the flavor pairings were nearly perfect. I haven’t had a burrito as good since this one.
Despite the amazing burrito delivery experience, I had actually completely forgotten about Cascabel until a couple weeks ago when I was on a lengthy line waiting to grab some bagels from Awesome Bagel. I glanced across the street and noticed Cascabel had some tables outside and a few of them were empty. Instead of waiting for the bagels, I figured I’d check out Cascabel for brunch.
The brunch menu is huge; it boasts over 10 starters, 10 taco varieties, plus breakfast burritos, pancakes, French toast, several egg dishes, and sides. After much deliberation, I went for the chorizo benedict: house made griddled corn bread topped with chorizo, poached eggs, and a chipotle hollandaise sauce.
The chorizo benedict was fantastic and is one of the most eccentric eggs benedict-inspired dishes I’ve found in the city. I would absolutely eat this again except for the fact that there are about 15 other items on the menu I want to taste first (yellowfin tuna and Thai chili tacos anyone?).
For just $15, patrons can score a one-hour bottomless brunch, which I of course decided to do. Patrons who choose to go this route can mix and match the eight different brunch cocktails on offer, which includes sangria, mimosas, Bloody Marys, Bloody Marias, two variations of margaritas, and two cava cocktails.
Ordinarily, I’d have a little more fun trying a few drinks, but I ordered the El Capitan first, which combines cava, passion fruit, and Domaine de Canton. The combination of sparkling wine, passion fruit, and the ginger-flavored liqueur was so refreshing and subtly sweet that I didn’t feel inclined to try the other cocktails on the list. Instead, I stuck to the fantastic El Capitan throughout my meal.
Cascabel does boast a full bar as well as sparkling water, horchata, tea, coffee, and agua frescas.
It should come as no shock at this point that it takes quite a bit for me to grow frustrated with service at any establishment. I am patient, easily impressed, and I care much more about the quality of my food and drink than the wait staff. With that said, I felt my table’s waitress left much to be desired. She was friendly enough, but forgetful (she returned to our table to take our order after she had already done so) and more than a little sporadic in how frequently she visited our table.
The ambience, on the other hand, was completely lovely. I dined al fresco in a comfortable and colorful chair and when I stepped inside to wash up, I was pleased to find that the natural light fills the restaurant. The space is small, but not cramped at all.
I would absolutely return to Cascabel Taqueria. The food is fantastic, the drinks are deliciously strong, and the ambience is pleasant. Who knows, I might even be willing to give that waitress a second chance.