Last night I ate at Mercadito with publicist Tracey Henry and Alfredo Sandoval, who is one of Mercadito's owners and also is involved in Simon Oren's restaurants, most notably Sushi Samba, which has locations in Chicago, Miami and Tel Aviv as well as two in New York. Soon Alfredo will be heading to Dallas to look over the opening of the Sushi Samba there. After that, the next Sushi Samba will be in Las Vegas. It will open in the new section of the Venetian around the end of the year.
But that's not all, Alfredo is also the brother of celebrity chef Richard Sandoval, who owns Mexican-oriented restaurants in Denver, New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Dubai, as well as Zengo, which is Asianish, in Denver and DC.
So we talked about business and the power of the media (it’s apparently very good for business if New York magazine says you have the best fish tacos in New York), and Alfredo's plans for the future, which include the opening of fast-casual taquerias in New York. After he described the concept I suggested that chains such as Chipotle would be competitors. That seemed to hurt his feelings a little bit. Tracey's more so.
We talked about marketing, too, and I told the story of a Midwestern chain restaurant that had a delicious tres leches cake that no one would order, until they changed its name to "milkshake cake."
The Sushi Samba team is trying to figure out a new name for a dessert that everyone who works there seems to think is the best sweet on the menu, but that sells badly. It's a creamy affair called quesillo, even though there's no cheese in it.
If you have suggestions for what else to call it, why not write me a comment?
What I ate:
tortilla chips with three types of guacamole: traditional, mango-chipotle and pineapple
mahi mahi ceviche
shrimp taco with chipotle, garlic butter and red onion
tilapia taco with huitlacoche, tomatillo salsa and manchego cheese
beer-batter fish tack with chipotle slaw (that apparently is the one New York magazine likes so much)
pastor taco with pineapple and arbol salsa
steak tacos with avocado salsa
pollo a las brasas (grilled adobo-marinated chicken)
rice and beans
oysters with manchego cheese, chorizo and epazote crema fresca
tres leches cake
What I drank:
Margarita de Pepino (tequila, cucumber juice, arbol chile and lime)
Tres Citricos Margarita (tequila, orange juice, lemon juice, grapefruit juice and habanero peppers, garnished with a jalapeño)
a sip of Alfredo's michelada (beer, lime juice, Tabasco and Worscestershire sauce, served over ice as a hangover treatment)