Mon-Thu, noon-1am; Fri-Sat, noon-4am; Sun, noon-1am
F, J, M, Z at Delancey St.-Essex St.; B, D at Grand St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
Grand St. to 14th St., FDR Dr. to West Side
If the test of any respectable Mexican restaurant is its guacamole, Casa Mezcal almost scores high marks but fails by serving stale tortilla chips. It’s a pattern: Appealing shrimp tacos are counteracted by fish tacos so tasteless and fishy that they are inedible. Chapulqueso—melted cheese with grasshoppers—suggest an exciting, high-protein adventure. The grasshoppers are crunchy and surprisingly well seasoned, but they are drowned in enough congealed cheese to make you wonder if the kitchen is trying to disguise their presence. After you pull enough spiky severed legs and bits of exoskeleton from your mouth, you remember you’re eating bugs. One star of the menu is the mole de pollo Oaxaqueño—the tender chicken falls from the bone, and the dark-colored sauce is deceptively light-tasting, with a balanced sweetness. Legend has it, upon hearing that the archbishop was arriving in Puebla, panicked colonial nuns combined the meager contents of their spice cabinet—chili peppers, chocolate, nuts, and spices—and marinated an old turkey in the concoction. In what may be a deliberate hat tip, the taxidermied turkey is a prominent feature above the bar. Yes, the chocolate mole is good enough to serve to an archbishop, but hopefully he skips the rest of the menu and heads to the upstairs club for a drink.