Thursday, September 17, 2009

Calexico Cart - Wooster St & Prince St

Calexico Cart
*** (for what it is)
NW Corner of Wooster St & Prince St
(see also: Broadway St & Broome St)

The Calexico Cart has built up a huge cult following over the years, earning the 2008 Vendy Award for best “sidewalk chef” in New York City. New York is not exactly known for its Mexican food, but Calexico serves tacos, burritos, and rolled-up quesadillas with a California-Mexico flair (get it? Cal-exico??), and is rumored to be the closest you can get to really great Mexican food in the US, outside of the California/Texas area. One of my friends at work is from Texas and is a huge Mexican food snob (and rightfully so, it’s pretty amazing out there), so we got a crew together during lunch to visit their Wooster & Prince location, to see if Calexico lives up to the hype.

Burrito bowl: rice, beans, carne asada (hiding under the rice), pico de gallo, avocado crema – also comes with a wedge of lime, and more cheese than the regular burrito. If the burritos had everything that the burrito bowls do, that would have helped make them as “AMAZING” as I’d heard they would be.

The burrito is supposed to come with beans, rice, and steak, along with pico de gallo and avocado crema, but none of our burritos actually had any pico de gallo in them. I didn’t happen to get any steak in my first burrito bite, just average-tasting rice and slightly overcooked beans, so I was starting to get nervous that this burrito was no better than what you’d find at the Chipotle down the street. And then I had a bite of the steak.

Calexico’s carne asada is the most amazing hanger steak I’ve ever been served, outside of prestigious restaurants like L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Just to be clear, a street vendor like Calexico can’t compare at all to a Michelin-starred restaurant like L’Atelier, but all too often, nice restaurants will serve hanger steak as a tough, stringy mess - which makes Calexico’s great steak that much more impressive, since its prepared on the street by a couple of Cali-hipsters.

The burrito is littered throughout with tender chunks of wonderfully seasoned steak - delicately spicy, and with a subtle heat that lingers afterward. If you like a little more spice, they have to-go packets of Cholula hot sauce, which can be washed down with a Jarrito’s soda (watermelon, lemon-lime, or mandarin orange).

The pork and chicken are also great choices, but with carne asada this good, I wouldn’t waste my time on anything else. Calexico Cart has earned a new place in my lunchtime rotation!

Click here for full cart menu; burritos only are served at the Broadway & Broome location.


  1. mmMMMMMmmmmmexian!

  2. Next time I'm cruisin' down Wooster, I'm going to try this! Thanks for the review!

  3. This sounds amazing, that could also be because there is nothing that can remotely come close to what is considered "good eating" in my neck of the woods.
    I love it when you add pictures too, the imagery is great for me to think about all day, or at least until my next meal.