Food

Talking to Strangers: Mexican Coke on the Upper East Side

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Recently, EfV was forced on a long trek to the Upper East Side to run an annoying errand. When our work there was done, we were relieved to spot a cozy looking lunchcounter spot called The Burger One on Lexington. Enticed by a hand-written sign out front, we went for a carnitas taco, rather than a burger—it was only snack time. This was a simple, top-notch taco. The pork was flavorful and nicely browned, and the house-made jalapeno-tomato hot sauce was wicked spicy and very tasty. Isn’t it amazing how food can cheer you up? Does that sound sad?

Anyway, then we met our new best friend, Izzy, a handyman who works nearby, who was freaking out about Mexican Pepsi. In fact, he had stopped by to purchase four bottles of the stuff. He said he doesn’t drink soda too often, but when he does, this is the only way to go. He said it reminded him of home and tastes completely different than American cola. His enthusiasm inspired us to purchase a bottle of the Coke, also Mexican, and do a little taste-test at home. In fact, we’ve been curious about all this since we heard about Mexican coke at Costco.

We poured both cokes into glasses and noted immediately that the American stuff had bigger bubbles. It is also sweeter and has a deeper, more molasses-like taste. It has an almost bark-y flavor, faintly similar to root beer. Next to it, our regular coke was practically refreshing. It tasted watery and much less complex, and it leaves a certain film on the tongue. Our taste buds and the nutritional information are in agreement: The Mexican coke lists sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup as the main ingredient, in addition to carbonated water, coloring, phosphoric acid, natural flavors, and caffeine. The Mexican also has more sugar, and therefore more calories and more carbs than its American cousin.

All that, plus the fact that the Mexican bottle, at 355 ml, cost $2, while the American coke, at 591 ml, was $1.25 at our corner deli, makes us think Izzy has the right approach to this whole soda habit: Do it rarely, and go for the good stuff.

The Burger One

1150 Lexington Avenue

between 79th and 80th

(212) 737-0095

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