Cerveceria Havemeyer Represents the Middle of This City's Polarized Mexican Offerings

Categories: ¡Oye! Comida

In our frenetic metropolis, the taco evolves at the far ends of a dialectic, either highbrow with pinkies raised or street-level sloppy. But between the white tablecloths and the back-door bodegas is Felipe Mendez's Brooklyn-based empire--the perennially popular La Superior; the chandelier-studded but somewhat undiscovered Cantina Royal; and the newish Cerveceria Havermeyer (149 Havemeyer Street, Brooklyn, 718-599-5799), al modish and gritty, where proletariat cuisine combines with aloof elegance.

The cerveceria, a beer-hall with long communal tables and dim Edison bulb lighting, has half a dozen beers on offer in the bottle ($5) and none on tap. Like his other establishments, Mendez fills his restaurants with ex-pats, Chilango staff, and bi-lingual patrons, so you can expect a lot of beautiful tattoos inked in Spanish. And like most kitchens of New York City, the cooking is done by Mexicans; here, that's respectfully considered an asset.

The taco offerings (most $3) overlap with the La Superior menu, but there's an additional crumbly chorizo con papas taco and a fish taco marinated in orange and achiote, served with xnipek sauce (or "dog's nose" salsa), a mince of habaneros that will ignite the sinuses. The taco villamelon sports chorizo and carne asada, as well as fried pork skin ground to a powder and sprinkled on top, with a crowning slice of ripe avocado. It's a complex and satisfying bite that usually prompts a re-order. And though the menu ambles towards beer-friendly snacks, there's still a seared duck breast with pomegranate sauce and enchiladas for those who demand a knife and fork.

A good freebie on the next page.

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