Free-Food-A-Palooza: Mexicue

You may remember back that at the Vendy Awards I sampled some of the food from Mexicue (along with basically everywhere else). It was a brisket slider with avocado, but since I was absolutely stuffed, I wasn’t really able to enjoy it, only finished half of it, and wasn’t really impressed.

Recently, though, Mexicue’s been in mind, as every time I leave Penn Station going down 7th Avenue I see a sign for a Mexicue brick-and-mortar location coming soon. That store’s finally opening this weekend (making it another food truck to open their own fixed location, joining the ranks of Calexico, Schnitzel & Things, and Souvlaki GR, which beat out Mexicue for Rookie of the Year at the Vendys last year) , but they had a special “friends and family” pre-opening today, and I was lucky enough to have a look inside the new space and sample some more free grub.

I got the Alabama BBQ Chicken taco (with romaine lettuce, roasted poblano chilis, and cotija cheese) and the Burnt Ends Chili slider (with pickled jalapenos and a cilantro lime sauce), and boy, did my opinion of Mexicue do a 180 after today. The chicken was a bit dry (the fact that they use two corn tortillas instead of one to wrap it didn’t help as it made the taco even thicker), but the taste was certainly there, with the delayed kick from the poblanos really sealing the deal. Instead of just pouring on the heat, this taco had a subtle spiciness – first I was hit with the taste of the chicken sprinkled with the cotija, and then the poblanos came in – which was its saving grace.

The slider, on the other hand, may be a case of love at first bite. The creamy cilantro lime sauce and the chili (made of brisket and ground beef – mmmmm) meshed absolutely perfectly. I didn’t especially realize that the pickled jalapenos were jalapenos (I just thought they were pickled cucumbers) until I re-read the menu – I thought that the kick was coming from the sauce – but that is a nice touch.

The meal probably would’ve totaled around $9, but I have a feeling I’ll be back for more of Mexicue, especially their sliders.

Mexicue’s restaurant is located at 270 7th Avenue, between 29th and 30th Streets, with apparently a second location on the way at 106 Forsyth Street in Chinatown; the truck roves about regularly, and you can track them on Twitter here.

Also, while more and more food trucks have found their footing in the form of physical restaurants, trucks are being pushed out of Midtown. Show your support for food trucks by going here and signing this petition.

Free-Food-A-Palooza: 16 Handles

The area around St. Marks Place between 3rd and 4th Avenues is kind of a hotbed of frozen yogurt (pun most definitely intended). And while I’m more partial to Yogurt Station (39 cents an ounce for self-serve fro-yo!), I couldn’t pass up a Tenka deal for 16 Handles (a deal that originally sold out in one day before they added more redemptionsto be fair, though, it was a hot day) for a free small frozen yogurt.

What I Got: Half chocolate, half banana, with kiwi, M&M’s, and rainbow sprinkles.

What It Looks Like:

How It Tastes: For the chocolate, it’s pretty damn great – sugary but not too much, enough chocolatey flavor, obviously complemented well with the M&M’s and sprinkles. The kiwis are nice and tart and they clash well with the chocolate (I get the kiwis ’cause I don’t usually eat kiwis and ’cause I’m weird). The banana fro-yo, on the other hand, tasted kinda artificial – it didn’t really feel like there was even any sort of essence of banana in there. If I come back (and, due to the aforementioned allegiances, I probably won’t), I’ll stay away from the banana and get the chocolate along with something else.

Free-Food-A-Palooza: Tuck Shop Micro-Review

25 January 2010 – 14th Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A

So I’m getting sort of tired of Free-Food-A-Palooza Week, and I decided to end it with a super short review. Here it is:

Free-Food-A-Palooza: Pita Joe

Israeli salad

This is Israeli salad, which is in all the sandwiches at Pita Joe. (Image via Wikipedia.)

21 December 2010 – 14th and 5th, Manhattan, NY

I was walking around Union Square after visiting Whole Foods (my mom wanted wheat berries, which I was able to purchase there and give to her the next day as her birthday present) towards the 14th Street-6th Avenue train station, so I could head down to the central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library to pick stuff up.

And as I walked along 14th, I saw what almost looked like a smiley-face, but wasn’t. It was a pita. Realizing that I had half-off of an $8 purchase at Pita Joe, right near the corner of 14th and 5th, and realizing further that I was both hungry and had nothing from previous nights left over for dinner, I texted in the Tenka deal and walked in.

I ordered two things (largely so I could get to $8, which would in turn go to $4) at Pita Joe: the Purple Joe (which I think could be confused with the Flaming Moe in conversation), a pita with grilled eggplant, hard-boiled egg, hummus, Israeli salad and a pickle, and a Pizza Pita, which comprises tomato sauce, mushrooms (something I’m not usually a fan of, but could more than stomach this time around) and onions. The Pizza Pita reminded me of the matzo pizzas I make (okay, that my mom makes for me – I don’t usually work the oven, even now on my own), and was a pretty good side, but it’s not even close to a passable main dish. But for all intents and purposes I got it for free, so I’m not complaining.

Therefore, enter the Purple Joe – which featured a surprisingly good blend of eggplant and egg (okay, not surprising in terms of name similarity, but surprising in terms of taste and logic), not to mention with hummus. I’ve come around to both egg and its corresponding plant only in the last couple of years, but I can finally appreciate it – especially here, where it meshes well with the tart hummus. Further, Pita Joe performs the almost-medal-worthy task of giving cucumber an actual purpose in an excellent Israeli salad. The pickle doesn’t do much and falls out of the sandwich pretty easily (why they put it in there instead of putting it on the side, I have no idea), but the rest works pretty damn well.

Tomorrow, Free-Food-A-Palooza continues with the Free Food Crawl of December 2010. Sunday, Curry in a Hurry and Tuck Shop. (I didn’t get to go to the Daily Soup yet.)

Free-Food-A-Palooza: Wafels and Dinges

Liège style waffle

I got a Liège waffle, seen here, free from Wafels and Dinges. (Image via Wikipedia.)

(Ed. Note: I got back late so the Pita Joe post will be moved to tomorrow.)

20 December 2010 – Midtown Manhattan

When I saw that Wafels and Dinges, winner of the Best Dessert Truck honors at the 2009 Vendys and still one of the premier dessert trucks in the City (having since spawned a chain of the main truck and three satellite carts) was on the list for deals on Tenka, I was kind of surprised. I had already sampled the truck’s waffles in October, when they were outside the Guggenheim Museum and I needed something to eat (of course, then ice cream on the waffle was a good idea, and now it’s not), and the waffle I had (a liege waffle, which is chewier and a bit more cake-like than the Brussels waffle, with chocolate fudge, ice cream, and bananas) was really great. So why would an already-well-established operation with fantastic food be inclined to offer free food to people?

Other than altruism, I still can’t think of a reason. The waffle I got from the “Vedette” cart on 5th and 60th (liege with chocolate fudge) was chewy and sweet, and went perfectly with the chocolate fudge and confectioner’s sugar (though the sugar got on my coat, which kinda sucked). The Belgian hot chocolate (which seemed like chocolate sauce with a bit of milk and some hot water) wasn’t that great – it tasted almost chemically, for some reason or another – but the main event, the waffle, was the perfect way to end finals week, which I did about 15 minutes before I went to the cart.

(By the way, when I went back to Wafels and Dinges, this time to the truck at 14th and 3rd, the waffle was even better with chocolate fudge, Nutella, and Spekuloos, the house spread (truck spread?) made out of gingerbread-cinnamon cookies was even better (though sticky, the sort of peanut-butter-stuck-on-the-roof-of-your-mouth, good kind of stickiness).)

This Week’s Musings: Free-Food-A-Palooza! (And two announcements)

Cup of coffee with whipped cream

Intergalactic Whipped Cream Day is February 1st. Be there, folks. (Image via Wikipedia.)

So I’m back after a week-and-a-half long absence of doing…not much of anything, really. (Well, I did the Macaulay Vlog, that’s about it.) Instead of doing the usual Unrandom Musings, this week there’ll be a week-long series of reviews – it’s “Free-Food-A-Palooza” week! This is all possible thanks to Tenka, the splendid NYC-based coupon website that often provides free food; for the past month since they introduced SMS-based coupon redemption (to go along with their smartphone based redemption), I’ve gone on five Tenka trips, which I’ll talk about and review this week. These trips are the following:

  • My trip to Wafels and Dinges on December 20th will be chronicled later tonight, as will my visit to Pita Joe from December 21st.
  • Thursday’s posts will discuss the “Free Food Crawl” of January 12th, where I received a free slice of pizza from Rosella’s, a free sandwich from Toasties, and a free bagel from Izzy & Nat’s (all of which are in the Financial District).
  • Yesterday’s trips to Curry in a Hurry (where I received a free samosa) and the Tuck Shop will be discussed on Friday, along with a diatribe of friends-with-benefits over at – dpecs.
  • Finally, today’s tomorrow’s visit to The Daily Soup will be chronicled on Saturday; afterward, Free-Food-A-Palooza will become an infrequent post to the blog.

Now for the announcements. First, my friend and dorm-mate Kelly Creary and I both realize the incredible wonder of whipped cream, in its versatility, its simplicity and its just-plain-awesomeness. We wanted to create a National Whipped Cream Day, but apparently, that already exists. But that didn’t stop us from still creating a new holiday: INTERGALACTIC Whipped Cream Day! Intergalactic Whipped Cream Day will take place on February 1st, and around the galaxies creatures of all shapes and sizes will enjoy whipped cream in as many ways as humanly (or otherwise) possible. Stay tuned for more news as to how to celebrate Intergalactic Whipped Cream Day in the coming days.

Second and finally, I’m going to be taking off the week of President’s Day, the week of February 21st. And for those of you worrying that Random Musings will go dark that week, fear not, for my dear friend Kelly Cordray (whom we last saw at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine during the “Unlocking the City” series) will be taking over the blog for the second Guest Week ever. Apparently, Kelly’s writing (or is to write) a rap about herself to be posted, which should be utterly fascinating (considering the only other time I’ve seen or heard her rap was when we performed “The Hamilton Mixtape” together at a poetry reading last spring). In any case, best of luck to you, Kelly!