November 24, 2003 | Ask Gael
I want strident flavor and quiet prices.

        There is a pleasant benevolence about Mojo, where the food looks great and tastes good, especially if you arrive before local fans pile in (no reservations). This is homey food with chef Chris Santos’s quirky Southwestern inflection. And the four of us want to try everything: all-day-simmered black-bean soup, crispy fish tacos, the crackling apple-bacon-blue-cheese quesadilla, and chorizo-studded mac and cheese. I could do without the silly sprinkles of whatnot on the edges of plates and the excess of sauce drowning otherwise splendid hanger steak. But the warm fried-chicken salad is a luscious hill of avocado, greens, and amazingly moist bird. And the burger is gloriously decadent, with chipotle barbecue sauce, grilled red onion, and my choice of add-on, Cabrales. It’s worth hanging at the bar just for superlative skin-on fries, an addictive marvel of genuine spud, salt, spice, and Day-Glo cayenne.

309 East 5th Street 212 539 1515

Cafe Fiorello