La Loncheria, a 40-seat contemporary Mexican café from Danny Mena, the chef/owner of Hecho en Dumbo, and Oscar León Bernal, opens today in Bushwick (41 Wilson Ave., Brooklyn, New York). Modeled after the loncheria, a traditional, casual Mexican luncheonette, La Loncheria is the first of its kind in New York, serving updated versions of authentic everyday staples including tortas, tacos and charcoal grilled entrées in a vibrant and comfortable setting featuring bright tiles and warm lighting.
La Loncheria chef/owner and Mexico City native Danny Mena is an ICC graduate and spent time in the kitchens of Blue Hill and The Modern before opening his traditional Mexican restaurant, Hecho en Dumbo in 2007 to the attention of a cult-like following. He and his team quickly outgrew that space and opened the current lower Manhattan location in 2010. Mena is also the proprietor of Mezcales de Leyenda, a USDA Organic and Fair Trade Certified line of premium mezcals.
Mena’s partner in ownership, fellow Mexico City native Oscar León Bernal will serve as the general manager. Bernal was pursuing a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology at CUNY until his side job in the hospitality industry, specializing in Mexican food and agave, became a viable career path. Together, Mena and Bernal have conceptualized menus and a space for La Loncheria that is both authentically Mexican and approachable to Brooklynites. Of their mission, Bernal says:
“La Loncheria will have a menu and ambiance linked to contemporary Mexico. I want to bridge the sense of nostalgia I experience and the desire for authenticity New York consumers seek out, to create a true contemporary Mexican atmosphere. I think it is the perfect time to do so back in Brooklyn.”
In addition to a series of rotating seasonal daily specials, under chef Mena’s lead, executive chef Luis Jimenez (formerly of Michelin-starred Parachute) will execute menu items including:
- Pues Si Pues with grilled ribeye, spring onions and salt rubbed cactus
- Camote with oven-roasted purple yam and vegan chorizo
- La Nueva Yorkina with pibil flavor roasted porchetta, habanero onions and avocado beans
- Pambazo-azo with burrata-stuffed huauzontle and cascabel salsa
- La Burger Hawaiiana with a classic thin double beef patty, pineapple and jamón serrano
- Cuantos Gallegos grilled octopus with tomatillo marmalade and peanut salsa macha
The beverage program, spearheaded by Bernal, will focus on craft Mexican spirits such as mezcal, sotol, tequila and rum. The cocktail menu will include such offerings as:
- Margarita de Mezcal with Pelotón de la Muerte Mezcal and fresh lime
- Caifán with Ilegal Reposado, Zirbenz and Sweet Vermouth
- Ay Cañita with Paranubes Oaxacan Rum, Mezcal and fernet
The long and narrow space, designed by Alex Gil of Spacecutter, echoes the menu’s marriage of classic Mexican cantina with a modern luncheonette. Sleek and vibrant, La Loncheria will be brightly lit during the day, transitioning to warm soft lighting at night. The front of the room features four colorful high-top tables, custom painted by local Mexican artists, while the back of the room has eight wooden dining tables situated below glass globe pendant lights. Running through the middle of the room, beneath a fluorescent zig zag light fixture, is an L-shaped concrete and metal bar with eight black leather-topped chrome bar seats, accompanied by a two-seat counter. There is custom tiling from Mexico on the front of the bar in white and on the back of the bar in green. The restaurant’s walls are accented by bright, other-worldly paintings from acclaimed Mexican contemporary artist Saner, as well as a custom artistic rendering of the restaurant’s logo. The white flooring at the entrance fades into classic yellow and white checked cantina flooring in the back dining area.
Beginning January 1, La Loncheria will be open Monday-Wednesday from 11am-1am (kitchen will close at midnight), Thursday-Saturday from 11am-2am (kitchen will close at 1am) and Sunday from 11am-midnight (kitchen will close at 10pm). For the duration of December, the restaurant will open at 5pm.
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