I wasn’t sure Super Linda‘s new takeout counter warranted the full First Impressions treatment, but then I thought of how popular Tribeca’s two Chipotles are, and it seemed a nice counterpoint—a homegrown alternative to the national chain. And since Super Linda hasn’t, um, exactly been known for its food or its service, I was curious how the takeout counter—where speed is important and liquor doesn’t soften the blow or make the food less relevant—would fare. Not least of all, I could consider my lunch a tax deduction.
It’s a pretty cute space—you access it via the door on the north side of Super Linda proper—that appears to be doing double duty as Super Linda’s coffee bar. It looks of a piece with its madre, as art-directed as all get out, but there’s a slight discrepancy between the slick newness and the Third World roadside taqueria aesthetic. On the other hand, one can’t really complain that a restaurant looks too clean. The abundant light is a pleasure, and I say that as someone who can’t stand atriums (atria?). I just can’t.
I was handed a paper takeout-style menu (left) when I walked in. There are tacos and tortas (pressed sandwiches), a couple soups and salads (I can’t tell if the salads are made fresh—there were two premade ones in the refrigerated case), and a bunch of sides. I only realized later that the menu above the counter lists all sorts of dishes that are not on the paper menu. I ordered two tacos (one fish, one carne asada), and a side of rice and beans. I asked the sweet cashier whether I should order the salsa verde or the chile de arbol sauce, each of which costs $1. “They’re both hot,” she said, shrugging. So I went for both, even though they seem like something that should be included when a taco is $5. And I ordered a Squirt—in a tall glass bottle!—because the Californian me can’t resist it.
Super Linda isn’t going to be mistaken for Super Rapida anytime soon, and Chipotle is a well-oiled machine in contrast. The taqueria opened Saturday, so some kinks are acceptable, I suppose. But get this: To communicate with the kitchen, the cashier has to stick her head in what looks like a ventilator shaft, yell upward, and hope for a response. While I waited, I passed the time by admiring the staff’s dewiness.
There’s nowhere to sit and eat, so I headed over to Bogardus Plaza and unwrapped my lunch, disappointed to find neither salsa verde nor chile de arbol sauce. I sighed and devoured my tacos—tasty, if not exactly subtle, but Downtown Lunch is not going to be happy with the amount of food for the money—and figured I’d eat the rice and beans at home (where I could nuke them, which they needed, and spice them up, which they also needed), stopping for my sauces on the way. First, I checked the receipt to make sure I had indeed paid for the sauces. I assumed I must have, because the bill was $20 on the nose, and it was hard to imagine getting to $20 without that extra $2.
Oh. Unable to get my head around paying $2 more for that lunch, tax deduction or no, I decided to forget the sauces. Then I noticed that the cashier had rounded my bill up from $19.60 to $20, which struck me as outrageous. Wait, the receipt lists a short rib taco ($4) instead of a fish taco ($4.50), so I guess she was saving me a dime…?
And that’s when I began to wonder if I had eaten a short rib taco instead of a fish taco, and I couldn’t remember, which is never where you want to end up.
Super Linda’s taqueria is at 112 Reade (enter on W. Broadway); open from noon to 10 p.m.
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