Street Side Review: Unique spin on Mexican street food

Jessica Holbrook taste-tests a bowl with chicken chorizo and corn salsa; vegetarian queso; sweet potato and black bean, carne asada, pork belly and Baja shrimp tacos; street fries; carne asada burrito; taco salad and cauliflower buffalo wings at Street Side.

Jessica Holbrook taste-tests a bowl with chicken chorizo and corn salsa; vegetarian queso; sweet potato and black bean, carne asada, pork belly and Baja shrimp tacos; street fries; carne asada burrito; taco salad and cauliflower buffalo wings at Street Side.

My first experience with Street Side followed celebratory drinks at its sister business, Whiskey Alley—an underground speakeasy-style bar with excellent, and strong, cocktails.

I loved the food that night so I was eager to return with a clearer head and sample more of the menu.

Street Side and Whiskey Alley are both part of Mercado Concepts. The business opened earlier this year in a former Subway on Market Avenue North in downtown Canton. Mercado completely revamped the space, transforming the sandwich shop into an effortlessly cool restaurant with a pressed tin ceiling, lots of wood and metal elements, graffiti-style art, vintage business advertisements and street signs.

If you don’t want to make your way downstairs, Street Side offers a full bar and a creative menu featuring unique spins on Mexican street food. There’s counter service at lunchtime—be prepared for a short wait during peak lunch hours—and table service at dinner.

The About offices are well within walking distance, and I love any excuse to mix up my lunch routine, so I made a couple weekday trips.

I called ahead with my first order and picked it up about 10 minutes later. My order was ready and waiting for me at the bar and packaged well enough that it easily survived the walk back to the offices.

My burrito bowl with chicken and chorizo ($8 for a bowl or burrito) was delicious, filling and far superior to its national chain competitor (you know who I mean). Bowls and burritos come with rice, black beans, peppers, onions, salsa and a choice of protein which includes short ribs, crispy tofu and shrimp.

I picked corn salsa, but other options include Street Side’s house salsa, pico de gallo, salsa fresca and tomatillo salsa.

Before I dug in, I thought I’d miss toppings such as cheese or sour cream, but I’m glad Street Side keeps it simple. Anything extra would have distracted from the smoky, flavorful chorizo, which paired perfectly with the rest of the components. I only managed to finish half of the bowl at lunch, but it reheated well the next day.

The vegetarian queso ($6, $6.50 with meat) had the right amount of heat and a good flavor, but a watery texture that didn’t improve as it cooled. The homemade chips were excellent, crispy and well seasoned. I’d happily eat them as-is.

I planned on enjoying my second Street Side lunch at the restaurant, but the place was seriously packed so I ordered at the counter and took it back to the office.

The tacos didn’t fare as well in transit, but being a little squished didn’t distract from the stellar taste.
Street Side has eight tacos on its menu, not including specials, ranging in price from $3 to $4.50. They come standard with flour tortillas, but you can sub corn tortillas and swap in tofu for meat.

The sweet potato and black bean ($3) was easily my favorite. I love sweet potatoes, especially in nontraditional dishes, and this taco delivered. The dry-rub potatoes had a great smoky heat that went well with the black beans and corn salsa. Pepitas gave a needed crunch.

The baja shrimp taco ($4) was a great mix of sweet and spicy and featured spicy chili-rubbed shrimp with a crunchy jicama slaw, corn salsa and chipotle hot sauce that packed a satisfying punch of heat.

The carne asada taco ($4) included perfectly cooked grilled steak, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, chimichurri and queso fresco. I loved the variety of toppings but next time would add a slug of hot sauce to amp up the spice.

These tacos are filling—I’d only order two next time—so I split the generously-sized street fries ($2) with a coworker. We both loved the smoky seasoning.

Street Side offers a few dinner-only (and all-day Saturday) options, so I grabbed my husband, Dave, for a midweek outing.

I’d sampled the beer-battered cauliflower wings (dinner only, $3.50/$5) at my first Street Side experience and had been dreaming about them since, so I was quick to place an order with buffalo sauce (also available in dry rub and chipotle). I remembered them being perfectly crispy, but I was served a mushy basket of cauliflower with a wet topping that just slid off the vegetable. We gave up after a few bites.

I know every kitchen has off nights, but I was disappointed by the nose dive in quality.

Luckily, the rest of the dinner was spot-on.

Dave’s carne asada burrito ($8) combined well-seasoned steak, rice and beans with perfectly paired sweet fajita vegetables. He also opted for pork belly tacos ($4) with a sweet, crunchy chili slaw and fire and ice pickles that cut into the chewy, rich meat.

The taco salad ($7.50) tasted as good as it looked. The components—greens, black beans, pico, queso fresco, poblano crema, pickled vegetables, tequila lime vinaigrette and a few tortilla chips—combined to make a sweet, sour, savory salad that I’d happily order again.

Street Side, at 217 Market Avenue North, is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. See more at mercadoconcepts.com.

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass