Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Macondo is a spot in the lower-east side that I would describe as island-hip. Filled with finished-unfinished wood tables, concrete floors, transparent-filament bulbs enclosed in large glass globes, and open to the street, the pan-Latin upscale eatery evokes a feeling of staying at an island resort, but a design-savvy one.

Service was cheerful and reasonably prompt. The backless stools, though, are not best suited for comfort. Maybe they wanted to encourage a little intensity.

As far as the food, it's a tapas style system, and that goes for their excellent drinks (all of one of which I tried). Their cocktail list is inventive and extensive, and I had an avocado mezcal drink that tasted like a really well-balanced margarita, with a center of heavy soft slush.

For food, we had several items. Vegetarian arepas filled with spinach, goat cheese, onions, and tomatoes were served not in the sandwich version you might expect at the Caracas arepas bar, but instead as thick slices of arepa on a bed of salad. These were good but a little bready. Cheese croquettes were decent but came a little lukewarm. A mixed green "Quisqueya" salad with asparagus, almonds, and mixed greens was also good but nothing special. Perhaps the best entrees were the patatas bravas, which came nicely cooked in hearty cuts and with a tasty chili sauce (though they could have been a little more generous with the sauce) and the "Setas" vegetarian flatbread, with onions, mushrooms, membrillo, cheese, and pistachio. I enjoyed the dark nuttiness and complexity of the flatbread.

Overall, the food here was above average, and the cocktail I had was excellent, but you would really come here for the excellent atmosphere and an interesting menu that gives you access to a lot of Latin cuisine (including Spanish cuisine) in a small place.

Stars: 4/5

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