Tacos and tequila are a fail-safe summertime combo, making June an auspicious debut for Williamsburg’s Casa Publica.
An Art Deco-esque beacon of arched windows, mosaic murals, clay tile and natural sunlight on a park-neighboring corner of Union (representing a distinct design departure from Over the Eights’ dim and divey interpretation of the space), it seeks to emulate modern-day Mexico City with market-conscious riffs on established dishes.
Armed with a trompo, chef Bob Truitt will eventually churn out sturdy tortillas heaped with pineapple-sluiced al pastor, although currently available carnitas (crisp, confited nuggets of suckling pig-reminiscent pork, as opposed to saucy strings of pulled meat) are especially marvelous, as are battered squash blossoms pebbled with requeson cheese—a discerning vegetarians dream. And the season’s most sought-after crustacean, the soft shell crab, appears with pollo adobada and grilled hanger steak amongst the large plates, made magically Mexican by way of hominy polenta, chileatole and chayote.
As for agave-based beverages, Casa Publica could have gotten away with micheladas and margs, yet the drinks menu rivals the food offerings in variety and breadth. Designed by Meaghan Montagano of La Sirena and Extra Fancy, the aforementioned staples (offered in multiple permutations) are just the tip of the iceberg, with options arranged under the headers “Refrescante” (think Oaxacan Mules), “Experimentos” (which make use of Peruvian blue corn fat washed Hudson corn whiskey), “Fuego” (spice-forward tipples spiked with chili-piquin honey), “Robusto” (tequila meets sake in the “Best of Both Worlds”) and even large-format “Grand Cocteles”—the “I Carried A Watermelon” clocks in at 51-ounces of Olmeca Altos Blanco tequila, Carpano bianco vermouth, watermelon, cucumber and citrus.
Casa Publica may be infinitely more polished than Over the Eight, but they definitely still know how to party.
594 Union Ave., (718) 388-3555, Williamsburg
Photos by Evan Sung