We've done plenty of complaining about the lack of good Mexican food in New York, and to be honest, we're sick of talking about it. Saying there's no good Mexican in this city is the tantamount to saying that Times Square sucks. Not exactly breaking news. But today might be the day that we can finally put an end to our griping.
Gran Electrica, a restaurant from the folks behind Colonie, might be the first place we can think of that's serving simple, excellent Mexican food without any gimmicks. There's no secret basement tequila dungeon, nor is there a VW bus parked inside. There's no guy with a guacamole cart, and we have yet to see anyone on staff wear a lucha libre mask. This is simply all of the best things about Mexican food served in a lively restaurant with killer drinks. If I knew where to find that upside down exclamation point on this keyboard, I'd be using it a lot right now.
For those of you who know your Mexican food well enough to understand the nuances, here's how Gran Electrica gets down. The menu is full of street food type small dishes - tacos, gorditas, quesadillas, etc. - and you will also find some of the real native staples like posole and tlacoyos. Everything is super fresh and relatively light (no smothered enchiladas here), and there's authenticity present in all of it. We love the fish tacos, the gordita, everything from the mariscos section of the menu, and the plate of pork ribs that's served with a side of home made tortillas. As mentioned previously, the drinks are incredible too, and the restaurant has a big back garden that sits directly under the Brooklyn Bridge. The only downside? Waits can be north of an hour during prime time, and there aren't a lot of other options in the area. You're going to have to cram yourself into the bar and have a few (a lot) of drinks while you wait it out. At least take comfort in the fact that you aren't standing outside single file like they are for Grimaldi's next door. Those people look way too sober.
We don't often list drinks in the Food Rundown, but Gran Electrica has a few that are worth pointing out. Our favorite is the Margarita de Remolacha, a beet juice infused masterpiece that is earthy and delicious. The Batanga is basically a pint glass full of tequila, Mexican Coke, and hot sauce. I don't know how I didn't think of that in college, but it's incredible. We also like the Margarita Flor de Naranja, which has orange and Campari in it, like a Mexican negroni. Bottoms up.
This mackerel ceviche is fresh and punchy, mixed up with some avocado, carrot, and jalapeño. You should order it, but know that one order won't go much farther than two people.
This raw scallop dish from the "Mariscos" section of the menu is a must order. The scallops are perfect, and they swim in a fresh herb puree that I almost finished with the straw from my drink.
Lightly fried tilefish on a fresh tortilla. These things are simple and awesome. You won't want to share.
Never has there been a time when we have ordered a carnitas taco and not been very happy that we did. These pulled pork bad boys are perfect.
This is a brisket taco with some onion and cilantro. It was our least favorite taco, which probably kind of like having a least favorite child. I mean, you still like it and all. Just not as much as the other ones.
To be honest, I think the last "gordita" I had came in a Taco Bell wrapper and probably had Fritos in it or some sh*t. Let's agree that whatever that was, it probably wasn't a gordita. This neat little pocket of fried dough with chicharron and queso fresco in it however, is what all gorditas shall be judge by henceforth. Good lord this thing is awesome.
Big, sticky pork ribs in a spicy sauce. These are awesome, and best eaten pulled off the bone and tossed into a tortilla. A squeeze of lime and some cilantro, and you are in business.
A chicken leg and thigh on a green tomatillo mole sauce that is pretty to look at, and tasty too. Our only complaint with this, and everything from the "Grande" section, is that it isn't grande enough. We were expecting a much larger plate of food for the table. No matter, you can always eat more gorditas.