The Early Word--Calexico Brooklyn

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Right: pollo asado tacos; Left: pulled pork tacos

Calexico, the brick-and-mortar outpost of a popular, Vendy-award-winning taco/burrito truck in Soho, opened last Tuesday, and was packed to the gills last night, overflowing with hipsters chugging Jarritos. There are a few tables, and a window to order from whether you're eating in or taking away. The menu is similar to that of the cart, albeit expanded, adding tortas, grits, and tofu. You've got five filling options: pulled pork, carne asada, pollo asado, tofu, or beans, which you can choose to have in a taco, burrito, torta, or quesadilla. Then there's a salad, Anstons Mills grits with tofu or pork, and sides of guacamole and salsa.

It looked like trying to actually get any food was going to be a hot mess, but the folks running the place know how to keep the line moving, and the delay for food turned out to be only about 20 minutes. It's BYOB, too, so you could drink beer while you wait.

As California-style Mexican, Calexico is pretty great. You're not going to get the dizzying flavor punch that you do at an authentic, down-home, Mexican taqueria, but it's clear that a lot of care goes into the layers of fresh, zesty ingredients deployed here. The pulled pork with pickled red onions, salsa, and crema makes for an appetizing combination of rich and piquant. Carne asada is smoky and bovine. Lovers of creamy, cheesy, carby action should not miss the grits with pork. Vegetarians might skip the tofu, which is (unsurprisingly) bland, and go for the beans instead.

122 Union Street, Brooklyn
718-488-8226

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