Mission Chinese chef Danny Bowien gave NYC a sneak peak of his soon-to-open Mexican spot, Mission Cantina, yesterday. He put up a makeshift burrito sign on the front door, and offered burritos filled with carnitas and chicharron, al pastor and fermented pineapple, lengua, and grilled chicken for $8 a pop. Then, the chef simply Tweeted:



Those itching to get a preview of the Bowien-ized Mexican fare that will be served when Mission Cantina officially opens on November 20th ran over to Orchard and Rivington. We count ourselves among that group.

So, what’s the verdict? I’m born and bred in Los Angeles, and these burritos were pretty darn excellent. I opted for the al pastor with fermented pineapple. The tortilla was ideal (warm and soft), filled with a generous portion of avocado, beans, salsa, flavorful al pastor, and fermented pineapple. The pineapple imparted a welcome sweetness to the combo, and a thin layer of crema (Mexican sour cream) on the tortilla was a nice touch.

The accompanying chips were addictive—super thick and crunchy, with an unusual nuttiness. Bowien told the NYT that he and his staff will nixtamalize their own corn sourced from Anson Mills in South Carolina for tortillas (and we’re assuming that applies to the awesome chips we just ate). The salsa verde was vibrant and offered the perfect amount of heat, and a side of escabeche (pickled jalapeño, carrots, cauliflower, and onion) was insanely good. The vegetables tasted like they had been roasted before being pickled.

We were a little worried that Danny, who established his first restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission district, would offer rice as a burrito filling. Fortunately, there was no rice to be found. Unfortunately, last night may have been the only chance we will ever get to taste Mission Cantina burritos, as Danny Tweeted, “probably not gonna do burritos when we open.” What will they be serving at Mission Cantina? The cashier manning the burrito operation last night simply said, “Mission Cantina will be ‘purely Mexican’ the way Mission Chinese is ‘purely Sichuan.'”

Either way, we’re excited about what’s to come.