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Brunch Chronicles: New Muchacho on the Block

Community Food and Juice has dominated Sunday morning indulgences for too long. It’s time to diversify your dining portfolio, and Bwog is here to help! In our Brunch Chronicles, we will take our time and gladly overeat at the neighborhood’s newest dining destinations. To begin, Bwog’s No. 1 bruncher Brian Wagner visits Cascabel Taqueria. Want to join Brian on his next outing? You could be Rob Brydon to his Steeve Coogan!

Cascabel outside view

Cascabel's Beachy Façade

Chipotle and Taqueria y Fonda have divided many, yet most would agree that neither are ideal brunching spots. Regardless of how you feel about the fare, Taqueria is small, crowded, and dark, and Chipotle is soulless, if at least well-lit. But now there’s Cascabel Taqueria, replacing Thai venue Lime Leaf on 108th and Broadway.

Aside from boasting one of Bwog’s new favorite Morningside logos, the layout of the restaurant is one of the neighborhood’s best for kicking back and enjoying a nice sunny day. You have the option of outdoor patio seating, or counter seats that let you feel the breeze thanks to a removed wall and a bright, spacious interior. There’s an upbeat atmosphere, aided by a full bar with a couple of TVs and a nice drink selection, making it a pleasant place to sit down and hang out with friends, family, a date, or even by yourself—Bwog won’t judge.

Cascabel's Steak Tacos

Steak tacos and their exciting crispy onion toppings

If you believe the menu, Cascabel is a casual taqueria offering “fresh, handcrafted fare, inspired by the markets of Mexico.” This gives off an inital Chipotle-esque vibe, though the offerings are far more extensive and less in-your-face. As it should, Cascabel boasts an impressive variety of tacos, each with unique toppings. Chicken tacos come topped with green onion and avocado, while the steak tacos arrive at your table bearing “crispy onions,” which are like miniature onion rings and add a fun crunch to your meal. Tacos can also feature fish, pork, and veal tongue, and come 2 for $8.50, which isn’t exactly a steal, but also isn’t bad for sit-down fare at a New York eatery. They do the job just as well as Taqueria’s giant burrito, while giving you the option of diversity. Additionally, you can add a third taco during lunch hours bringing the cost to $11.75, but stomaching three would be a feat.

Cascabel interior

A taqueria where you have room to stand and breathe? No way!

The main attraction on the menu is obviously the tacos, but Cascabel also offers a fine variety of authentic Mexican dishes. Depending on the time of day, you can order traditional Mexican breakfast, lunch, or dinner platters. Your faithful reviewers gobbled down a delightful plate of Chilaquiles during their morning meal. All entrées are delivered on a metal tray, which adds to the modern, hip, and slightly sterile feel of the place. This was reflected in their soundtrack, which featured the inoffensive likes of Feist, Passion Pit, The xx, and Phoenix.

Since you’ll likely pay around $10 for your main course, Bwog recommends skipping the pricey appetizers (though they are tasty—their zingy guacamole, the true measure of the worth of any Mexican restaurant, did not disappoint), and unless you’re dying for that horchata, the drinks are nothing to die for. However, there’s little excuse for passing up the churros, which come in a bag of three little D-battery-sized pastries for a measly $1 and are a great way to end a meal.

The verdict: If you’re looking for a place to sit down and enjoy a tasty Mexican meal in a relaxing atmosphere, look no further. The food is fresh and inspired, and the prices are mostly reasonable. On a nice day, it’s not hard to imagine that it’s the California sun’s rays you’re soaking up, but don’t expect the magic to last long once the year starts heading for cold weather. If you’re in a hurry and simply aspire to scarf down a burrito without expending much time or money, there’s really no reason to venture past Chipotle, and we honestly don’t think that Cascabel is going to convince a lot of Columbians to do so. But the place is highly brunchable, and so by our criteria, it’s certainly worth a try.

PS: In between researching and write-up, Serious Eats offered their opinion. They took issues with the tacos but passed an overall similar judgment.

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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous prices aren’t reasonable. It’s 12 dollars for the cheapest meal, which should be classified as an appetizer.

    1. Couldnt agree more says:

      @Couldnt agree more The prices are way too high for the amount of food they give you. Quality is pretty good, but it does not make up for the fact the you leave hungry after paying 12 bucks.

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Totally agree. The portion sizes are ridiculous. The two tacos together are about the fourth of the size of a chipotle burrito, not nearly as good, and four times as expensive. Also while their drinks are delicious they’re severely overpriced. I’ll take my happy hour margaritas at the heights with a “Mexican” burger any day.

    3. is it says:

      @is it just me or is overpriced fast food becoming the new neighborhood norm?

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Overpriced food was ALWAYS the neighborhood norm. If there’s one thing NYU’s got on us, it’s cheap food for poor college kids.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous Oh, I just thought that was because they live in the middle of downtown NYC… which is one thing, or countless things, that they got on us.

  • what? says:

    @what? do you guys even know what brunch is?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I LOVE YOU BRIAN <3

    1. bwag's no. 1 fan says:

      @bwag's no. 1 fan brian can i taste test you?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous the tacos are half the size as taquerias, not as good, and twice the price

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Calm down little guy, first thing first. As far as I can remember, as I child I was always fat and chubby. I blame it on my mother really, she always fed me high calories food. I remember one day I came home from playing with the the neighborhood kids and that changed my life forever. Now before I tell you about this life changing experience, you have to understand one thing, we were very poor. How was I so fat from high calories food you ask? Well simple really. Mother would often feed me rendered pork fat with white bread. We used rendered pork fat like butter, slap on, slap off. Me being a fat boy, I would often spread pork fat over everything I ate. Rice, beans, potatoes, crackers, apples, bananas, oranges, bacon, ect…you named it. So as you can see, my love for pork fat was truly unconditional. Matter of fact, I would often used pork fat as lubrication to get one off. Like I said, we were very poor, lotion was something we couldn’t afford. Now back to my life changing experience. I can vividly remember that exact moment, I came home and mother told me to sit on the chair. She didn’t not give the reason, except for the fact that she had tears running down on her face. She told me that my uncle was killed by a bus. He was drunk and walked into an intersection and was ran over. That moment will forever haunt me, I still get the goose bump as I type this. So please, remember, love your family and friends. Whenever you live the house, please kiss your love ones. It might be the last time you ever see them again.

  • Seriously? says:

    @Seriously? Why is this new feature not called Bwunch?
    Is it too obvious for Bwog? At least it’s a pun.
    Brunch Chronicles is just so unappetizing…




    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous I really hope in your case that CE stands for Continuing Education… DICK.

      1. hmm says:

        @hmm I don’t think he’s referring to Continuing Education, but someone claiming to be a senior, he sure got quickly accustomed to the new acronym for the school I still think of as SEAS.

    2. CC 14 says:

      @CC 14 Yeah that’s definitely a ’15 troll…no senior would refer to hirself as “CE”

      1. CC '12 says:

        @CC '12 You have given me new respect for the ’14s.

  • There was a ... says:

    @There was a ... … Cascabel over on the East Side. I ate there a year or so back. The food was excellent, and it came in those metal trays like the one in your photo. I don’t remember it being particularly expensive, though.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Brian Wagner is a brunch god.

  • Sir Digby says:

    @Sir Digby “The verdict: If you’re looking for a place to sit down and enjoy a tasty Mexican meal in a relaxing atmosphere, look no further.”

    Am I the only one who thought of Stefan from SNL upon reading that?

  • ... says:

    @... just tried it. promising in theory, but ultimately way overpriced, bland, flavorless and unsatisfying, leaving one with not much more than an empty wallet and a feeling of regret.

    overall: a good match for, and a well coordinated addition to, the morningside heights neighborhood.

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