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El Cortez

Restaurants, Soul and southern American Central Brooklyn
4 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)
 (Paul Wagtouicz)
Paul WagtouiczZombie at El Cortez
 (Paul Wagtouicz)
Paul WagtouiczOrange Julio at El Cortez
 (Paul Wagtouicz)
Paul WagtouiczNachos at El Cortez
 (Paul Wagtouicz)
Paul WagtouiczChicken Buddies at El Cortez
 (Paul Wagtouicz)
Paul WagtouiczEl Cortez

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

It sure is hard to miss—a giant totem pole and bas-relief sun exist in stark contrast to the gritty, chain-fenced warehouses nearby, a no-name-necessary marker for this messy, multicultural fantasyland of a bar from the Commodore cohorts Stephen Tanner and Chris Young. Inside, Aztec-temple murals and banana-leaf wallpaper anchor the retro-soundtracked room, where Hawaiian-shirt-clad servers bustle towering hurricane glasses and taco salads to a crush of fringe-booted women and man-bunned guys. And as with the soul food kitsch of the Commodore, El Cortez is best enjoyed when you surrender to its haphazard mélange of influences, precariously straddling the line between loudly garish and really fucking fun.

ORDER THIS: Tiki touchstones flaunting mini-umbrellas and pineapple wedges pad the cocktail list, printed on vintage numbered place mats. The stiffest of the bunch is a rum-soaked zombie ($12), with a knock-you-cold first sip of 151 float, while a similarly sweet yet slightly tamer Flor de Muertos ($11) brightens smoky mescal and woody reposado tequila with splashes of tart velvet falernum. The bar replicates that mall-chain novelty, the Orange Julius, as a frozen, goes-down-easy Orange Julio ($11), sloshing floral gin and elderflower liqueur with fresh OJ.

GOOD FOR: Junk-food evangelist Tanner tenders gluttonous Mexican-ish comfort plates to sop up those saccharine pours. While the Tex-Mex trend earned a resounding thumbs-down across the river (lo siento, El Original), the unfazed toque and his co-chef, Dennis Spina (River Styx), zealously riff on South of the Border staples like tri-salsa, queso-shellacked nachos ($12) and a deep-fried chimichanga ($10) boasting Taco Bell ingenuity (and size) with mountains of ground beef, shredded cheese and avocado. American standards (burgers, shrimp cocktail) also make an appearance, but the star of this sideshow is a quartet of crispy, plump chicken sliders skewered together kebab-style ($11) in an ode to Tanner’s famed fried chicken.

THE CLINCHER: Head upstairs for late-night beats spun by local DJs (Miranda Maxwell, Eli Escobar) blaring Funktion-One–powered tunes that run the gamut from ’90s R&B to Brazilian disco and synth-fueled new wave. Roped off before 10pm, the under-the-radar space touts intimate booths, a second bar and a wood-decked patio for sipping alfresco in between sets. With gut-sticking grub to warm the belly and an after-hours dance floor to work it off, El Cortez festively shuffles between neighborhood dive and full-blown escape.

By: Dan Q Dao



Address: 17 Ingraham St
Cross street: between Bogart St and Morgan Ave
Transport: Subway: L to Morgan Av
Price: Average main course: $12. AmEx, MC, V
Opening hours: Daily 4pm–4am
Do you own this business?

Users say (3)

5 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

So thrilled I discovered this gem in my neighborhood!  El Cortez is everything you'd want for a laid back night out.  Between the tiki theme, killer DJs, lively dance floor and the outdoor patio, this bar is an ideal place to hang out at on a summer night.  


YAS. I feel like the girls of Broad City would approve this new-ish bar. El Cortez is a gem. Killer cocktails (literally these drinks are strong) in tiki wear is everything I need in Bushwick. The upstairs back patio deck is awesome for chilling out and hanging with friends. This is a great place to grab cocktails, dance, hang - and the quirky staff makes it a ton of fun. It is a bit out of the way, but definitely work the trek.

If you haven't been to the off-the -beaten path n'hood that is Bushwick, get there quickly because places like El Cortez will make it a prime destination in no time. Styled in easy-vintage-beach, it's tiki flare isn't at all campy or overdone. It's a place where you can go with a group and not have to scream to be heard. A place where the drink menu has pictures to facilitate decision making and trust me...when everything sounds so good you'll need all the help you can get.

And get there quickly, before Bushwick turns into the next Williamsburg.