Tuesday, March 10, 2015


We're big fans of fast casual. A lot of the new ones that have been opening up lately follow the Chipotle mode of DIY combinations, but it's just nice to see so many new places and so many different cuisines in the fast casual space. One of the newest ones, Óxido, a "modern Mexican" fast casual spot from Chef Jesse Perez, opened last week, so we headed down to Flatiron to try it out over the weekend. As a bonus for it being their first weekend open, we were welcomed with some free chips and salsa samples outside the shop. What an excellent start!

Óxido, similar to Chipotle, has burritos, bowls, and tacos. You get to choose your main - garlic steak, chicken poblano, pork carnitas, beef curry, or mushrooms - and then customize it with rice, beans, vegetables, toppings, and sauce. It's basically just like Chipotle with different recipes.

So that we could try the various options at Óxido, we both got different things for the most part. M got the chicken poblano and A got the chile lime pork carnitas. M got the white comino rice and A got the brown comino rice (both are basmati). M got the charro pinto beans and A got the chipotle black beans. M got the fire-roasted tomato sauce (what they suggested would go well with the chicken) and A got the chipotle crema sauce (what they suggested would go well with the carnitas). From a top down view, our bowls looked identical, but the only things our bowls had in common were some of the toppings - vegetables a la plancha, pico de gallo, sweet corn relish, lettuce, and cheese.

A's review of his pork carnitas bowl: This bowl had a good overall flavor. The black beans were moist and paired with the brown rice to form a good base for the bowl. I didn't really taste the chipotle in the beans, though. The flavor of the carnitas was good, but it was a touch on the dry side. The salsas and vegetables were nice and fresh, especially the salsa fresca. There wasn't much cheese on bowl, and I wasn't sure if I was able to ask for more. The chipotle crema was nice and smoky and added a really nice flavor to the whole bowl.

M's review of her chicken bowl: This bowl really felt like the exact same thing I order from Chipotle, but with different chicken, so I focused first on the chicken by itself. The chicken poblano is really flavorful, drawing much of that flavor from Ancho peppers, and definitely stands apart from Chipotle with its special recipe. The fire-roasted tomato sauce that was recommended was really a great match. The beans, salsa fresca/pico de gallo and corn salad, while different recipes, are pretty on par with Chipotle (a good thing in my book). Personally, I prefer the fajita vegetables better from Chipotle, since the onions and peppers are left to grill much longer and aren't as crunchy, but these were fine and that's just a matter of personal preference. Overall, it was a good bowl.

Generally, our meal at Óxido was pretty good, and we were glad that we stopped by. Between the 2, we both preferred the chicken, but are looking forward to trying more options. The only thing that we could see as being challenging was the seating. There were 5 booths/tables and some seats at the counter, but everything was taken by the time we got our food, despite the fact that we were there at an off-peak time. It wasn't really the restaurant's fault that 80% of the people squatting had already finished eating and were just slow to leave, but we can imagine it might be a challenge at the height of the lunch or dinner rush and once more people have realized they're open.

We'll definitely go back to Óxido. We are often looking for fast casual options in Flatiron and Chelsea to combine with our grocery runs to Trader Joe's, so we're glad to have another option in the area.

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