North Brooklyn is teeming with Mexican restaurants. In fact, Greenpoint’s only Michelin star belongs to a modern Mexican establishment.
Although Cinco de Mayo is an Americanized version of a holiday that is relatively minor in Mexico, it is still an opportunity to enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine from Mexican chefs, and here’s where to do so.
Taqueria Ramírez (94 Franklin St.), the neighborhood’s critically-acclaimed taco joint, was founded by Giovanni Cervantes and Tania Apolinar. Cervantes is from Mexico City, and Apolinar is from Torreón in northern Mexico, but the pair met in Greenpoint. Cervantes and Apolinar have never owned an eatery before, but that didn’t stop them from claiming the only spot on the New York Times’ list of 100 Best Restaurants from Greenpoint, coming in at #86.
Taqueria Ramírez is known for only one thing: Mexico City-style tacos. The delicious tacos gained an extraordinary following in Greenpoint, with lines that tend to wind around the block. The taqueria’s bestselling taco is the Al Pastor, which was also the influence for the Ramírez burger, now sold exclusively at The Mallard Drake down the street.
Birria-Landia (491 Metropolitan Ave.), a humble food truck with excellent tacos, was also on the New York Times’ list of 100 Best Restaurants at #18. Birria-Landia is owned by two brothers from the town of Coatzingo in Puebla, Mexico. The pair, José and Jesús Moreno, started with one truck in Jackson Heights in 2019 and now have four trucks in different boroughs. The Williamsburg truck is a great place to pick up affordable tacos (or tostados, mulitas, or consommé) and sit on a nearby bench devouring the tasty treats.
Mexican bistro Xolo (29 Dunham Pl.) has a menu influenced by the Mexican upbringings of owners Jorge Boetto and Willians Lopez, who were both raised in Mexico. Boetto, born and raised in Mexico City, has been in the restaurant business for nearly two decades. Lopez moved to the US from Puebla, Mexico, and has worked in the restaurant industry for 15 years, starting as a dishwasher and line cook, and slowly working his way into the front of the house.
Xolo’s menu includes shareable appetizers like chicharrones and mini meatballs al pastor, a variety of tacos, and main dishes like chile poblano relleno de queso and Milanesa de Pollo.
Xolo’s Jorge Boetto is also the owner of Mesa Coyoacan (372 Graham Ave.), and upscale Mexican restaurant featured in the Michelin Guide. Mesa Coyoacan’s Chef Ivan Garcia, who, like Boetto, hails from Mexico City, leans toward tradition in his cooking, rather than making modern versions of Mexican cuisine seen at other spots.
Chef Garcia’s signature dish is the Chiles en Nogada which is a roasted poblano pepper stuffed with shredded pork, organic chicken, peaches, pears, apples and almonds, and then covered in a walnut sauce and topped with pomegranate seeds. If you’re looking for an upscale locale to enjoy authentic and traditional Mexican cuisine, this is the perfect spot.
Tacombi (242 Metropolitan Ave.), known for Mexican snacks like creamy esquites and their new birria tacos, is all about giving back on Cinco de Mayo. On May 5, 100% of the proceeds from all orders, including in-store, on the Tacombi app, and on the website, will go to the Tacombi Foundation, feeding people in the local community who are facing food insecurity.
Tacombi’s founder, Dario Wolos, was raised in Monterrey, Mexico, his mother’s hometown. He grew up traveling across Mexico with his family, who often hosted international guests and introduced them to Mexican food and culture. In 2005, Dario founded Tacombi in the beach town of Playa del Carmen. He moved the business to New York City in 2010 and introduced Tacombi as a lively, taqueria experience and limited service restaurant in downtown Manhattan. His vision for Tacombi was always to invest back into Mexican communities.
Hungry Burrito (1079 Manhattan Ave.) is a family-owned Mexican restaurant that the owners describe as “both Tex-Mex and traditional Mexican with a gourmet twist.” The Delacruz family owns three Hungry Burrito locations with two in Greenpoint. Lorenzo Delacruz, the owner’s son, said he thought the neighborhood could use another authentic and well-run Mexican restaurant.
Lorenzo Delacruz said his family is “big on hospitality.” “Anyone can learn how to take a plate from the table, but we want someone to connect with people from neighborhood,” said Delacruz. Locals can sample both the traditional cuisine and hospitality on Cinco de Mayo when the restaurant will open at noon with outdoor seating available.
Friducha (946 Manhattan Ave.), Greenpoint’s colorful Mexican restaurant, is owned by siblings Sandra and Wilson Lopez and was inspired by the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Last year, the beloved local spot fell victim to vandalization and burglary in the same week, but afterward gained a larger following with huge amounts of community support.
Friducha’s menu contains a large selection of classic Mexican dishes like tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and fajitas, plus burgers and salads.
While Williamsburg’s Pheasant (445 Graham Ave.) usually serves Mediterranean fare, for Cinco de Mayo, the restaurant’s Chef Sixto Bonilla will create a traditional Mexican menu with what Pheasant calls “Sixto pizazz.” The $45 prix fixe menu will include 4 courses of authentic Mexican cuisine and be served from 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. on May 5. Pheasant is also featuring cocktail specials during this time that include micheladas, piña coladas, and an agave flight.
Chef Bonilla was hit by a car last summer while he was biking home from work, but the community came together for support, and the chef has recovered. When posting about the disheartening news, Pheasant’s owners, Catherine Alexander and Vincent Fraissange, called Bonilla “a dear friend” and “more family than an employee.” Cinco de Mayo is the perfect opportunity to support Chef Bonilla even more by enjoying his traditional Mexican menu.