Venue: Fast-Casual Dining
Atmosphere: Your Average “Chelsean”
Crowd/Scene: Hungry people
Foursquare Check-in: http://4sq.com/1blYyQ2
Rating: 5 Stars
I had heard about this place from several different people, and I couldn’t understand why several friends of mine were constantly checking into this place on Foursquare. So finally, after talking with a few people, I decided it was time to go to Tres Carnes–even if it was by myself, in the middle of the day, during the middle of the week when I probably should have been working on something a lot more productive than trying out the hottest new Mexican joint in Chelsea.
Well, I believe the hype!
When somebody told me that Tres Carnes was better than Chipotle, I was skeptical. Not because I didn’t think Chipotle could be out done, but because I didn’t think Chipotle could be outdone at a profit. And yet, with a slight “willingness to pay” advantage over Chipotle, Tres Carnes appears to be getting the churn a place with its high-quality food deserves. I’ve been to Chipotle more than my fair share of times during lunch hour, and I know about the ridiculous lines that span throughout the restaurant’s entire interior, and Tres Carnes has waiting times that rival those very lines at Chipotle. So much for fast-casual.
But on to the food!
It’s good. It’s really good. Like Chipotle, you go through the line, and ask the person behind the counter for the various items you won’t on your burrito or in your burrito bowl-like entree. And when it comes to choice, there isn’t much difference between Tres Carnes and Chipotle. Both places give you your meats, your rices, your corn, your salsas, your sour cream and your cheeses. The major difference between Tres Carnes and Chipotle is the quality.
Yes, that’s right. Chipotle, which prides itself on being the heavenly saint of organic meats and fresh vegetables is outdone by this up-and-comer in Chelsea. Tres Carnes just tries harder. Call me crazy, but I have been here 4 times now, and every time I tried something different–including the time I got an extra bowl to go. Their meat is a little juicier, a little tastier and a lot more–for lack of a better word–hardy…? Hardy is probably not the right word, but I don’t know what to call it when the meat has a little more weight, smokiness and rough texture to it. I probably could have done better than hardy to encapsulate those three traits–probably just by using those three traits–but whatever you want to call it, Tres Carnes does it better. And oh yeah, their meats are barbecued–that was probably the word I was looking for!
Three out of the 5 types of meat I have had at Tres Carnes were of its “meat of the week” variety–or what they call their “weekly smoke.” Every week, they have a “special” meat. No, not the kind of special meat you got served in the high school cafeteria, where “special” just meant we don’t know what kind of meat this is. Instead, the “special” at Tres Carnes means “unique,” as in “unique to the menu.” So in my three attempts with the meat “special,” I have had boar, sausage and leg of lamb. All have been great. All have had me coming back craving more. And you too should try all of it every chance you get.