Skip the lipstick and the white dress. After all, at this fun, new Pleasantville taqueria from the team behind 105-Ten in Briarcliff Manor, you will eat, very well, with your hands. Just remember to bring wipes!
To begin your meal, consider the extra-crispy chicken wings with hazelnut salsa (which can be ordered mild or spicy) and the Mexican street-style corn. In the latter, a corncob is halved, skewered, char-grilled, and dipped in salty and creamy lime aioli, queso cotija, and chili powder. While you wait for your hot starters, sample the three house-made salsas with tortilla chips — the fresh, vibrant salsa verde was my favorite, while the slightly mushy and bland mango habañero made a weaker impression.
To balance out the indulgent apps, order the slightly sweet, spring-green pumpkin-seed hummus with olive oil and chili powder, which comes with beautifully cut fresh radish, carrot, celery, parsnip, and jicama for dipping. Or, go for the guacamole, which is elevated by a topping of queso fresco, pomegranate seeds, and toasted pumpkin seeds. The kale salad, with a sweet and smoky chipotle-date vinaigrette, queso fresco, pumpkin seeds, and riot of crunchy fruits and vegetables, is a must-try. Meanwhile, the lime-kissed shrimp ceviche, with pineapple, cucumber, pickled chile, tomatillo, cilantro, and radish, is cold, light, and refreshing.
Of course, the most finger-licking fare is the seven tacos, all of which can be ordered on corn tortillas or romaine lettuce. I’m still dreaming about the sweet, tender butter-poached lobster with roasted corn, chipotle aioli, poblano peppers, and crispy potato threads; and the Baja fish, with beer-battered mahi mahi, pico de gallo, avocado salsa, chipotle aioli, radish, and cabbage slaw.
That said, all six I tried featured expertly prepared fillings — whether fried Brussels sprouts (with pistachio salsa and pickled onion), pulled pork carnitas (with onions, cilantro, and salsa verde), rotisserie chicken (with tomato, chipotle, beans, crema, and avocado), or steak (seared NY strip, with melted Chihuahua cheese, poblano, onion, and bacon). My only quibbles: Some of the tacos (especially the Brussels sprouts and carnitas) were a bit dry, and required a dousing of salsa. In addition, a few could have used more salt (this was also true of the chicken wings and ceviche).
If you’re after something a bit more soul satisfying and nourishing, try the pozole. Vegan as is, the hot, tomato-based stew chock-full of brightly hued seasonal vegetables and New Mexico chili broth can be topped with a variety of proteins. For a more traditional option, the menu also offers entrées, such as grilled New York strip steak, rotisserie chicken, burgers, and grilled trout.
Whether you’re a family with young kids or a couple on a first date, you’ll find apt choices on the varied, thoughtfully chosen menu (which happens to be 98% gluten free). Just know that desserts, as of press time, were not listed (servers told us they are not made in-house). So, you might want to satisfy your craving for flan or churros elsewhere.
For the ultimate experience for a party of two, order two starters, three tacos, and two cocktails. We were impressed by the jalapeño margarita (with sliced fresh jalapeños and red-chili salt on the rim of the glass) and the Mexican Mule (with pomegranate seeds). Both were tart and only slightly sweet, lending them well to food pairing. If you’d rather opt for mezcal, tequila, wine, or beer, the restaurant offers an impressive selection.
Fortunately, the convivial atmosphere is just as photogenic and fun as the fare. With sultry Gypsy Kings or danceable house music playing, the compact 790 square foot space features a dramatically-lit blue-tiled bar with Day of the Dead-inspired skull beer and wine taps. Cacti, black-and-white photographs, Mexican clay figures, books, and flat-screen TVs adorn the walls, melding earthy, hip Mexican style with a relaxed sports bar vibe. Even the bathrooms are sophisticated, featuring charming, white retro sinks, and interior design magazine-worthy tiles. Inspired by the architecture of Mexican fincas and tequila distilleries, the space includes built-in wooden benches, bar stools, high-top tables, and dining booths.
Bustling and seductive, Mission Taqueria brings a Miami Beach feel to the county. Our welcome — right when we walked in the door — was warm, and the friendly and helpful service continued throughout our meals. The staff was all-smiles, and our water glasses never went empty. My only criticism: a couple of times, servers brought us food meant for another table.
Such a minor mistake will not prevent me from returning to Mission Taqueria — and I encourage you to visit soon. In addition to dressing down and bringing wipes, consider stopping by on the early side. Since the restaurant does not take reservations, you could wait for a table at prime times.
472 Bedford Rd, Pleasantville
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Cos Cob-based writer Dina Cheney is the author of six cookbooks and writes about food, health, and wellness for numerous publications.