Here's a new trend-in-the-making: noted outer-outer-borough (i.e., not Brooklyn) "ethnic" joints either relocating to, or opening branches, on Washington Ave. in Prospect Heights.*
This relocation of a famous-to-those-who-follow-these-places Bronx Mexican was the first, opening last week. Look, a sister restaurant to the similarly lauded Elmhurst Thai Plant Love House, opened soon after.
Admittedly, El Atoradero opens under mixed circumstances. It was originally opened in the Bronx by Lina Chavez in the back of a bodega, and then expanded. Rising rents forced Chef Chavez to close, to the consternation of her fans. Now, she reappears in Brooklyn -- backed, this time, by Noah Arenstein of Arrogant Swine and two other (perfectly nice) young Jewish guys. I have no idea what the financial arrangements are here, but it looks depressingly like Chef Chavez went from running her own place to being the employee of White Money. While it's good that she's cooking again -- and very good for me that it's a few blocks from my apartment -- it seems somewhat regrettable.
When I went a week ago Monday, they were still in soft opening and tinkering with the menu. But everything I had was pretty great. Chef Chavez comes from Puebla and cooks Pueblan. But she's several cuts above the City's Pueblan norm. Sure, she makes her own moles every morning. So do others. BUT -- and this may be the influence of the Three Jewish Guys -- her ingredient quality is several steps above such lauded Pueblan places as Tulcingo del Valle on 10th Ave. in Manhattan. Imagine a lamb barbacoa in a non-fancy NYC restaurant in which the meat is actually good! (Too bad it can't be mutton -- but if Keens can't, El Atoradero can't.) I also had some queso-filled flautas that were so much better than you'd expect that they seemed a notable treat. Flautas without a hint of grease, at a non-fancy NYC Pueblan restaurant!
So yeah, I'm pretty excited about this place. I'll just forget the unpleasant implications.
COMP DISCLOSURE -- A shot of Mescal.
ETA -- See correction below about ownership of this restaurant, from an extremely credible source.
* Luckily, so far they've all been on the Prospect Heights side of Washington Ave. If they were across the street, they'd be in Crown Heights.