Above: Clockwise from top left: Poblano mac & cheese; grapefruit Paloma cocktail; margarita; pico de gallo; kale bowl with Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, pepitas, corn, arugula and Cotija cheese; salsa verde; open-faced wild rock shrimp taco with slaw, sliced mango and creamy chipotle
Back in the day, inventive chefs came up with Latin fusion. Around the same time, they began experimenting with blends of Mediterranean traditions. Terms like Cal-Asian are now part of the foodie lingo. And although this trend to blend continues, it would seem safe to say that innovative combinations are fewer and harder to find.
Not necessarily. Mexicue, now in Stamford, delivers a menu that fuses Mexican cuisine with American Southern culinary tradition, including barbecue. Who would have thought? We’re glad someone did.
Mexicue has a storied past, starting eight years ago, when the concept was housed in a food truck plying the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn. It was popular then, feeding the business lunch bunch, tourists, festival fans and concertgoers who sought it out. Then came NYC’s crackdown on food trucks, and Mexicue moved to its first of three Manhattan brick-and-mortar eateries.
We’re happy the owners looked north to open their fourth location in the site that once housed Paloma. Offering casual eats with authentic, down-home cooking techniques, Mexicue should be on your go-to list for meant-to-be-shared meals that appeal to all ages.
The location, one of the best in Stamford, sets Mexicue apart. In a breezy, bustling area with perfect views of the harbor, Mexicue’s large dining room opens to a dockside outdoor patio that is shaded with umbrellas in the warmer months. Upstairs the scene is lively, with deep-cushioned chairs and sofas on an outdoor deck, the picture-perfect place to sip a tequila—there are forty-three varieties on the menu—or interesting cocktails, like a Smoky Margarita or Grapefruit Paloma.
The guacamole, too, is lovely and thick, with welcome crunch from the added onions. We had ours mild, though it did come with a slight kick that hits after the first bite, a sign of a properly seasoned dish. Suggestion: Order a side of watermelon radish chips. A variety of daikon, this radish is a root vegetable that is crisp and succulent with a peppery note that adds depth to the creamy avocado.
From the bowl section, we selected kale with creamy chipotle. Lightly dressed, it did not disappoint. The crunchy greens are brightened by fresh corn and Brussels sprouts, and the added pepitas make this atypical salad a sunny transition to the tacos, sliders and burrito bullets that round out the menu. (You can make a meal out of the bowls section. Tuna poke next time!)
There are eleven taco varieties, which are served in portion sizes that are easy to share—typically two or three per person are suggested. And after our first foray, we can see why the tacos are the reason fans of Mexicue return for more. Consider the pulled pork, smoky and tender, seasoned with creamy chipotle. Or the tuna ceviche, fresh and bright thanks to the citrus vinaigrette. It’s hard to resist lobster, and here it’s sweet, accented with chipotle butter. The charred brisket is balanced with slaw, salsa verde and Cotija, the white and salty Mexican cheese that gives this beef preparation its authenticity. Still hungry? Order the wild rock shrimp, a tad spicy, but its heat is balanced by sliced mango.
To complete our meal, we shared two burrito bullets. The Jamburrito—chicken and chorizo jambalaya with slow-simmered black beans, pico de gallo, Cotija and brown rice wrapped in a flour tortilla—was worth loosening our belts. As was the burnt ends brisket chili accompanied by house-pickled peppers, a perfect mélange of smoke, heat and savory crisp.
Once you are ready to begin sampling, consider beginning with two from the starter section, the Poblano Queso and Charred Jalapeño Guacamole. Both are served with thick, crunchy chips that hold well under deep dipping. The queso is exactly as it should be, cheesy gooeyness with a hint of heat thanks to the poblano. Given the meal ahead, we opted to pass on adding burnt ends brisket chili, as offered, as it surely would add smoky complexity to this opening dish.
Will we return? We already have. Twice. The atmosphere alone is so hard to resist. But what brings us back repeatedly are the fresh ingredients, which the chefs at Mexicue know how to make sing, with textural components and interesting pairings. We hope Mexicue calls Stamford home for years to come.
For those watching their carb and gluten intake, the tacos—normally prepared with organic corn tortillas—can be ordered in gluten-free tortillas or romaine boats.
15 Harbor Point Rd.
Mexican & Southern American
Monday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m.
Friday, 11:30 a.m.–midnight
Saturday to Sunday, 11 a.m.–midnight