Kirsten Jadoo is back with yet another guest blogger post to prepare you for Cinco de Mayo! Today she’s focusing on Mexicue, the “sweet love child of red-hot Mexican cuisine and down-home, barbeque goodness”. Mmmm, is your mouth watering yet?
Make sure you’re following Ms. Jadoo on Twitter at @whatJADOOin for more NYC street food reporting and enjoy this post!
Mexicue: The Beginning of a New Cuisine
A quintessential dish that is a definitive test of good Mexican food is the taco; since I had yet to try it, I needed to test Mexicue’s version if I was really going to pass any sort of judgment. I spotted the Mexicue truck at 18th and 5th Avenue under a furniture store sign that read “INNOVATION.” Pretty serendipitous and telling, I thought, given that is exactly what Mexicue is accomplishing with their combination menu of BBQ and Mexican food, each influenced by the other in ways where you cannot tell where one cuisine begins and the other ends.
Mexicue doesn’t feel like a forced fusion, which is something that turns me (and most food-lovers) off immediately. Instead, the selected components of each cooking tradition combine in a sensible way. How could guacamole and BBQ pulled pork not taste good piled on a warm corn tortilla? The cotija crumbles sprinkled on top of the mac’n’cheese are strangely familiar, as if you’d eaten it that way since you were a kid. Homemade BBQ sauces add a little something smoky, a little something tangy; there is just the right amount of heat and sweet, the essential cornerstones of both BBQ and Mexican food, which probably explains why Mexicue’s menu has made them one of the most popular food trucks in NYC. Their unique approach to food has also allowed them such success at their brick-and-mortar spots in their Lower East Side test kitchen and Midtown West restaurant.
I met up with co-founder and Chief of Culinary Development Thomas Kelly at the LES test kitchen to talk about Mexicue’s origins and future plans. Starting with just a food truck in 2010, Kelly admits that the two cuisines reflect more of his own fancies than they do his background, since Minnesota (his home state) is known neither for its Mexican food or BBQ. Thomas says that the two cuisines are similar in their preparation and cooking methods; the flavors of BBQ and Mexican food just made sense on the same plate. Mexicue describes itself as the “sweet, sweet love child of red-hot Mexican cuisine and down-home, barbeque goodness,” a sexy description that the popular sliders and tacos live up to. The use of local ingredients ensures a certain freshness that is enticing to food-truck lovers, and options like rice bowls and salads keep lighter options on the menu.
If you don’t believe that the marriage of Mexican food and Southern-style BBQ is like, completely awesome (not to mention quite profitable), just tally the figures. A savvy, highly capable CFO has enabled Mexicue to become its own growing brand, and has turned Mexicue into a multi-million dollar operation. In sync with the grand scheme, Thomas says that a new Mexicue is set to open before the end of the year, good news for the hardcore NYC fanbase that Mexicue has built (well over 10,000 Twitter followers, close to 3,000 likes on Facebook, plus Mexicue has its own app) and is sure to attract soon-to-be BBQ believers.
Oh, and a smoked chicken po’boy with pico de gallo and cotija cheese is currently in the works at the test kitchen, in case you still weren’t convinced.