While most of you can’t remember your whereabouts on May 5th, you might remember the hangover, splitting headache, and sour odor in your room on May 6th. A fog of margaritas, empty shot glasses, and sombrero photos with strangers on your Instagram that help you put the pieces of your night together. Though May 5th symbolizes the victory over French forces by the Mexican army during the Battle of Puebla most of us have renamed it Cinco de Drinko! An honorary drinking day for booze attics alike.
Where was I? Introducing myself to a Caribbean twist on a holiday well known to Mexico as well as the United States. I had the pleasure of being personally invited to La Gringa tasting event for a “ Saucy Caribbean style Cinco de mayo.” Hopping off the L train a plethora of memories flood my mind. The area has done a 360, once considered Bushwick is now East Willyburg but in the center of it all there is authenticity, people who care about the community and want them to know there is an alternative to the average fast food joint. Though La Gringa is the perfect place for a quick bite and an IPA it’s also a place to kick back, take a seat and eat savory food. Though you might write this off as another Tex-Mex spot the dynamic duo are of Latin descent combining a Puerto Rican and Dominican flare with a Caribbean twist, while incorporating influences from the West Coast, particularly Santa Barbara. Adalis Velez recalls the first few years being a difficult one. It was all a learning process, especially managing food, she said. Their main focus was local fare and organic fresh ingredients. Initially utilizing local vendors from the Union Square market they have upgraded to local vendors for their meats, veggies and ‘magic sauces’ and condiments made on premises, made daily.
I was able to sample a few menu items before I was completely stuffed. Tilapia tacos- A sizeable piece** of fresh grilled fillet of seasoned fish on a bed of lettuce, tomato’s and grated cheese.
Braised pork tacos- Succulent chunks of braised pork, doused in a mild Smokey marinade, plentiful with fresh veggies. The guacamole was delicious and fresh with ripe avocados. Sauces range from creamy sour cream to intensely hot. I barely dipped a finger and licked the tip of the spicy hot sauce. And that was enough for me. I took a Chicken burrito to go. Still warm when I got home.
You may tastes something a little sweet in your burrito and wonder what’s awakened in your taste buds. Seasoned meat, crunchy lettuce, juicy tomato’s and a secret ingredient. Plantains!
So far they serve margaritas and beer but hope to open up a full bar in the future. They display local art inspired by Mexico and murals, created by local artists, line the walls. Outdoor seating is available for events and those perfect summer nights where you want to dine out in the warm summer breeze. Don’t forget to look up. The sign hanging at the entrance was handmade by Adalis’s father and 7 members of the restaurant staff. You feel the love in this place and can taste it in the food.
What does face painting and fondue have in common with this little haven? Ask the owner next time you stop in..