At the risk of losing points on my facebook “Are you a real New Yorker?” quiz, I don’t actually like to eat and walk at the same time (though just to be clear I can do it). Naturally, I was interested to read that Jesse, Bryan and Dave Vendley, the brothers behind the popular Calexico Carne Asada trucks in Soho were putting down roots and opening a new restaurant in Red Hook. Serving traditional Mexican street food from the California border town where they grew up, everything we tried – pulled pork taco with pickled red onion and crema, Anson Mills grits topped with fresh corn and jalapeños, carne asada burrito and cantaloupe agua fresca – was bright, well seasoned and straightforward.
The surprise was the restaurant itself. I was expecting a hipster truck stop turned ironic storefront. I wasn’t expecting to see a wall of prayers.
With one large space entirely covered with exvotos, the painted votive offerings that fill Mexican churches either as the fulfillment of a vow or testament to a miracle received, two decorated altars, and loud music bouncing off it’s wooden benches, the small space incorporates their murmurings and wishes without drowning out the sound of the street. It’s a great place to stop moving.