Dining Review – Break-in Edition: We Paid Lotus And Mezcal’s A Visit After A Burglar Did The Same
“He broke it open with a hammer.”
It’s not your normal afternoon lunch conversation, but this hasn’t been your normal week for two 5th Avenue restaurants.
Joyce Li of Lotus Vietnamese Sandwiches (229 5th Avenue between Carroll and President Streets) was showing me where a burglar smashed into their ATM machine last week. The restaurant is one of two 5th Avenue businesses that fell victim to a burglar on Wednesday, September 14.
Police also confirmed a suspect broke into the basement of nearby Mezcal’s (223 5th Avenue at President Street), however they were unable to get inside the restaurant. They are still searching for the suspect.
It’s been a busy, stressful New York City news cycle week, and two break-ins do not hold the weight of the Manhattan and New Jersey bombings.
With that, we decided to take some time to patronize these local businesses and enjoy a quirky light bites combination of Vietnamese and Mexican cuisine.
Li told us Lotus has been on 5th Avenue since 2011. “We’ve never experienced anything like this. It’s been quiet,” she said. “But I heard there have been other burglaries on 5th Avenue this year.”
And she is correct. A spate of those burglaries on or near 5th Avenue took place last March, including Acme Wines & Spirits (487 5th Avenue), Culture Yogurt (331 5th Avenue), Postmark Cafe (326 6th Street), Aji Fusion Sushi (201 5th Avenue), as well as two incidents at Athena Mediterranean Cuisine (535 6th Avenue).
I was able to sip a Vietnamese Iced Coffee ($3.75) — just sweet enough for my tastebuds without being overwhelming — and snack on Shrimp Summer Rolls ($4.95). During the time I was there, Lotus was peppered with customers primarily ordering take-out.
As I munched away, Li sat down with me to go through the surveillance photos they took. “We hope the police will catch him soon,” she said. All in all, the burglar walked away with about $1000 from the small business.
A few doors down, Mezcal’s seemed more business as usual.
“Nothing was taken, because they broke into the basement and couldn’t get up into the restaurant,” said Nidia, a Mezcal’s employee when we spoke with her the day after the incidents. “There is a wall between the first area and our basement. We were lucky.”
The restaurant is popping with paintings, photos, and decorations — somewhere between Mexicana and kitsch. The tvs were turned to futbol. One man was sitting at the bar glued to the action.
Mezcal’s has a full menu — you won’t have any trouble finding many iterations of burritos, tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas and the like.
I was immediately served a generous basket of tortilla chips with some surprisingly spicy salsa. I was trying to keep my control so I could order an appetizer.
Actually, the tlacote ($8.95) dish I ordered seemed more like a meal than an appetizer. The quesadilla dish comes with guacamole, melted cheese, and black olives. I longed for fresh-tasting guacamole.
What we also long for is these crimes being solved.
And while we don’t usually end food articles with this information, it’s unfortunately necessary in this case:
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or by texting your tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. Police say all calls are confidential.
The Dining Rundown: Lotus Vietnamese Sandwiches
Where: 229 5th Avenue (between Carroll and President Streets)
Hours: 11am-9:45pm all week.
Kid Friendly? A short stop-in with the kids will work fine.
The Dining Rundown: Mezcal’s Park Slope
Where: 223 5th Avenue at President Street
Hours: 11am-11pm, Sundays-Thursdays; 11am-midnight, Fridays and Saturdays
Kid Friendly? Yes, and high chairs are available.
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