Any challenges to the eminence of NYC’s Mexican food scene can be quickly countered by a pilgrimage to Bushwick, home to a legion of celebrated eateries such as Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos, Cholula Deli and Taqueria Izucar. And now Ivan Garcia—whose notably promoted his native Mexico City in Williamsburg, with Zona Rosa and Mesa Coyoacan—is further fortifying the already taco-blessed neighborhood, by transforming a triangle-shaped corner of Knickerbocker Avenue into the vibrant Guadalupe Inn.
That said, his new, luminous cantina has very little in common with the emphatically bare-bones bodegas that surround it. Instead of formica two-tops and folding chairs, maple tables are circled by lush, cactus-hued banquettes, and grouped in a duo of rooms ornamented with resplendent floral wallpaper and custom brass light fixtures, fringed by an intimate stage.
Although even the razzle-dazzle of burlesque acts and mariachi bands pales next to Garcia’s menu, designed for maximum impact—seductively smoky pozole rojo arrives rimmed with palm-sized, handmade tortilla crisps, whole grilled fish steams in its shroud of plantain leaves, and al pastor is delivered on a miniature trompito, allowing patrons to shave off strips of guajillo-rubbed pork with butter knives, and tuck them into DIY tacos along with bits of burnished onion, triangles of fire-singed pineapple, and squirts of fresh key lime.
And while beverage menus at other area spots consist of bottled Jarritos and six-packs culled from the cooler, Guadalupe Inn has a full compliment of agave-based cocktails—consider the Mezcal G&T, a refreshing blend of tonic, Pierde Almas #9 and Espadin, and the Fall Fashioned, featuring tequila reposado, aged bitters, applejack and spiced pear.
There’s no doubt that Guadalupe Inn is considerably flashier than its counterparts, but that’s in no way inferring that it’s anything less than authentic. If anything, it’s a welcome showcase of the elevated facets of contemporary Mexico City cuisine.
1 Knickerbocker Ave., Bushwick
Photos by Maggie Shannon