photo: courtesy mercadito counter
To enumerate all the dining and drinking establishments operated by Mercadito Hospitality, you need a Mercadito Counter (738 N. Clark St., no phone yet). Mercadito Counter, which actually refers to the place customers order food in the fast-casual restaurant, was announced yesterday as the 11th concept for the group.
Mercadito Counter will serve Mexican street food and Mexican-inflected takes on American street food. Tacos similar to those at the sit-down Mercadito (108 W. Kinzie St., 312-329-9555), along with nachos, quesadillas, and enchiladas fill the first category; the second holds dishes such as the Mercadito Burger (a rib eye–short rib burger with jalapeño butter, Manchego cheese, and grilled scallions), the Mexican Dog (a bacon-wrapped beef sausage with pico de gallo, jalapeño relish, mayo, mustard, ketchup, and bacon), the Mole-Q Dog (a fried sausage with mole barbecue sauce, green tomato–jalapeño slaw, three mustards, and crispy onion strings).
“Everything will be à la Mercadito,” says Alfredo Sandoval, a partner. “The idea is to make it very accessible.” His goal is to marry the quality level of fine dining with the casualness of a corner taquería. The only comparable restaurant Sandoval can think of is Rick Bayless’s nearby torta spot, Xoco (449 N. Clark St., 312-661-1434).
Mercadito Counter will repeat the successful keg-cocktail system in use at the Mercadito property Tavernita (151 W. Erie St., 312-274-1111). And even after the law requires them to shut off the taps, Sandoval says they hope to seduce the hungry post-barhopping crowd.
They plan to open around Christmastime. Once they do, if someone rejects a friend’s proposal to go to Mercadito because they want something more casual, they can propose a Mercadito Counter.