Great Mexican joints
In anticipation of Cinco de Mayo, we check out five new places that are breathing life into New York’s South of the Border dining and drinking scene.
Wed Apr 25 2012
Photograph: Virginia Rollison
Lengua tacos at Gran Electrica
The farm-to-table restaurante:
The backstory: There’s no shortage of locavore New American eateries in New York (to wit: Gran Electrica’s sibling restaurant, Colonie, in Brooklyn Heights). But this Dumbo spot may be the city’s first Mexican restaurant to boast a Greenmarket ethos. Chef Sam Richman, a Jean Georges alum who spent months tasting his way through the old country, combines traditional Mexican techniques with top-notch, sustainable ingredients: pasture-raised meats, East Coast seafood, Finger Lakes Farms hothouse tomatoes in the cooler months and red beauties from farmers’ markets in the summer. Brooklynites have been packing into Gran Electrica since it debuted in late March, bringing a youthful buzz to the neighborhood’s sleepy dining scene that’s been missing since Hecho en Dumbo departed for the East Village.
What to order: Meals here are accompanied with a bright quartet of distinctive salsas: the mild ajonjoli, a nutty, fruity puree of sesame seeds, costeno chili and vinegar; a tart tomatillo salsa verde; a fresh gazpacho-like salsa roja; and a fiery, smoky salsa de chile arbol. Taco fiends should opt for the lengua (two for $8). The homemade tortilla is a bit tough, but it’s merely a vehicle for the crisped, seasoned shreds of tongue, which are braised for nine hours, and fresh toppings of chopped onion, cilantro and radish. Equally satisfying are the meaty pork ribs ($18), slathered with a rich, concentrated morita-and-ancho-chili sauce, which is simmered low and slow overnight. Enjoy them while hobnobbing at the bar or ensconced at one of the wood tables tucked into pockets of the dimly lit dining rooms.
5 Front St between Dock and Old Fulton Sts, Dumbo, Brooklyn (718-852-2789)