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Bonita in Ft. Greene

A branch of the Williamsburg Mexican restaurant, Bonita, has just opened on DeKalb in the middle of the Ft. Greene restaurant explosion. Has anyone tried it?

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  1. I went there for drinks the other night, food looked great and the mid-dinner vibe was beaming but alas, all I can comment on is that it's a good place to get drunk on tequila.

    I plan on hitting it up for eats this week.

    1. We went last night for dinner at Bonita on DeKalb and had a wonderful meal. They have a wide selection of tequilas, some really fine, and my SO and I each started with a shot of an anejo tequila -- our favorite was Partido. They bring it with a chaser of sangrita, a refreshing tomato and cucumber cooler to sip after the tequila. Sort of a variation on a bloody mary.

      For apps, I had the special posole, a soup with pork and hominy, which was hearty and delicious, full of flavor. It comes with a plate of condiments to tweak it to your taste -- lime, cilantro, red onion, julienned lettuce. My SO had the chopped salad, which was very fresh, if not especially interesting. Our main dishes were fish tacos and steak tacos -- both really fresh and delicious. The steak was tender and flavored with marinade; the fish was fried and was quite delicate. For dessert, we shared a slice of tres leches cake, which comes with a shot of tequila poured on top, further drowing the already milk-saturated cake. It was great.

      The total bill came to $58 -- for two drinks, two apps, two entrees, and one dessert, which seemed extremely reasonable, especially compared to many of the Ft. Greene restaurants. The place just opened but it was packed and buzzing, probably because the nabe really needed a low-priced, nice-vibe, great food restaurant.

      They were a little harried, as new restaurants usually are, but the waiters were all very friendly and helpful. The seating is VERY tight, the noise level is high. But we really enjoyed it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: starfish

        Don't you mean, Partida? Try the Don Julio Blanco and the Don Julio 1942 if you like the Partida. Similar in style, both from 'single agave vineyard' Highland Pina's.

      2. pozole, fish tacos, and sopes were all good. i'm not judging the fish tacos by Mission Beach standards. i'm just saying they were tasty and, despite being a native of SoCal and a fish taco snob, i would eat them again.

        the sangria was nothing special. next time i'm ordering a michelada--beer mixed with citrus juices, with a salt rimmed glass. i'll let you know how it is. i live right around the corner, so if you want me to try something and report back on it, i will.

        2 Replies
        1. re: worm

          Just had my first meal there last night and was uniformly disappointed. $4 for bland, store-bought chips and salsa; a chopped Mexican salad that was lacking in any sort of ambition or flavor. Two main courses that were adequate at best and very overpriced.

          What's with the $4 side of beans? Give me a break.

          Seating is ridiculously tight.

          We've had a lot of welcome additions to the Ft Greene restaurant lineup, but this aint one of them.

          I'll be taking the walk to Lobo on 5th avenue for better, cheaper food.


          1. re: mizdflop

            Thank you for finall calling this place what it is. I live in Billyburg, and the only reason that they are able to get away with it here, is well, b/c this is their turf, and that the Hipster-Dufus crowd does not know good eats, period. Over charging for bland, medicore at best food? I can go to Park Slope for that.

        2. So I'm back from another outing at Bonitas. The michelada was good and is the same price as a beer. The chorizo sopes and adobo pork were very good (not on the menu but offered as specials). The veggie tacos were decent but uninteresting. The chicken enchiladas were excellent. It's nice to see a place that makes all their own corn tortillas. The pico de gallo is hot as hell, due to some green chiles they put in it, so before you slather your rice or whatever with it, take caution.
          I also enjoyed finishing my friend's drink, made from horchata and some sort of alcohol--tequila, i guess. My friend couldn't handle the gross amount of salt on the rim of my michelada glass, so she ordered a chelada sin sal(just beer and citrus juices).

          1. ate at Bonita last Thursday eve and like everyone else, enjoyed it overall. the atmosphere is great - loved the tiles and the warm lighting. the guacamole was outstanding. i have to say, though, that i thought the fish tacos were boring and flavorless in the extreme. the ingredients were fresh, and i'm all for good simple ingredients, but i really thought something was missing. also, the pieces of fish were tiny, considering there was nothing else on the taco except cabbage.

            everything else was great, though, including the service and i will definately go back. any other suggestions for dishes?

              1. re: Clinton Hiller

                btw vanderbilt and clermont (across from ici) where that old italian place used to be.

              2. mrs jones is right about the fish tacos in the fact that they are simplistic. The thing that makes them boring and slightly deviant from a true baja fish taco (see postings under "fish tacos") is the lack of a proper fish taco sauce. Bonitas' sauce falls on the mayonnaise side of the fence. Some NYC fish taco sauces fall on the tomatoe salsa side of the fence. But it really needs to be something else. I'm not sure what's in a proper fish taco sauce, but it resembles the color of thousand island dressing, though not the taste. Perhaps it's mayonnaise blending with a salsa. I know it when I taste it.
                But other than that (and the fact that the taco could use two tortillas, rather than one), the taco was pretty authentic, though as we know "authentic" doesn't always cut it in NYC. Their needs to be something that puts it above and beyond the fish taco that would be served out of a Pacific Beach taco hut. Alma is doing some interesting stuff with their fish tacos (listed as appetizers), but their store bought tortillas are nowhere near as good as Bonitas hand wrought tortillas. What do you guys think about Bonitas' tortillas? Am I wrong in assuming that they're made on the premises?

                1. I think those guys do a really good job and i'm a big fan of their other restaurants- Diner and Marlow, but Bonito has never done it for me. Whoever did the menu just doesn't seem to know enough about Mexican food to get it right. Food isn't spicy enough, flavors don't meld well together. I went to brunch at La Palapa the other day and their food smoked Bonitas in a big way. Mexican food is about home cooking- not just some culinary school kids who tweak ingredients and call it clever.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cid

                    That's funny you should say that Mexican food is about home cooking. I never thought Bonita Originale in Williamsburg was all that authentic, but it DOES seem home-cooked. Story is, the Hispanic cooks in the kitchen used to be in charge of the staff meals at Diner. It was delicious enough that the owners decided to make a whole restaurant out of those impromptu meals. If that isn't a dedicated homage to home cooking, I don't know what is.

                    Haven't tried the Ft. Greene one yet, but I'm totally psyched to-especially at a location that has a full bar (!). Is the fish taco sauce all mixed together? Bonita in the 'burg serves it in two tins... the mayonnaise-y part in one... and the spicy-fiery one in another. And maybe it is lacking something but I kinda love them.

                    Are they serving brunch yet? I think that's really what they do best.

                  2. You poetic waxing about Cino's sounds like Dana Carvey's Grumpy Old Man skit on SNL. "The pasta was soggy, the pork chops unchewable, AND we liked it." Just because something's been around doesn't mean it's good and should stay around - Cino's was just dreadful - that's why no one ate there after it was no longer the only game in town.

                    But, another question - why is Bonita in Clinton Hill. I've heard debates on what the edge of Fort Greene actually is - but the debate centered around Clinton Ave or Vanderbilt being the border . . .

                    1. I had a blah meal there the other night. It started well- I loved the guac and the fresh tomatillo salsa, but my pork enchiladas were so mild that I felt like I was eating air. The pork was a little dry, and the sauce totally lacking in flavor.

                      I would give it another shot (I don't live in the nabe, no matter what you call it), but it's a bit pricey for what I had.

                      I'm ready to try the new Mexican place on Vandy and St. Marks.

                      1. finally tried bonita last night. i was very excited about this addition to the neighborhood and had high hopes. unfortunately, we were not impressed. i like everything about the restaurant except the food. the atmosphere, the service, the cocktails, the scene were all nice, however everything we ate, from the $7 guac to the pico to my stuffed pepper to my dining partner's enchillada were all very underspiced and totally lacking in flavor. very dissapointing. i wasn't even expecting it to be great, but it would have been nice if you could taste what you are eating. hate to say it, but pequena is tastier (and pequena isn't that great).

                        1. So the overall consensus is that the food is not spicy enough?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: worm

                            I don't make to make a definitive evaluation having only tried a few things, and as take-out no less, but I was sorely disappointed. The pork enchilada was pretty dry and flavorless, the chicken burrito so-so, though the chipotle sauce smeared on top was good. There should have been more of it. The maduros were like cardboard, and considering how easy these are to make, they shouldn't have been this bad. I'm hoping the tacos are better, as per the above posters' recommendations, but I'm worried that Bonita is aiming for the market of people who don't want to pay LouLou/Chez Oskar prices, but who are pretty satisfied with plain food in nice surroundings. And even at their lower prices, they are overpriced--$10 for a so-so burrito?

                            My friend really likes Taco Chulo in Williamsburg. Any thoughts?

                            1. re: AppleSister

                              I was not impressed with Taco Chulo. As someone who gorged herself on tacos in Northern California for 6 years, I found the tacos pretty tasteless. Which makes me sad because I know they are organic and hand prepared etc...but they just seemed to have no taste.

                          2. We found the Williamsburg version to be just okaaaaay
                            More like a place you're excited if it was downstairs from you as an alternative to the bad Chinese food you'd been ordering.
                            It got some good reviews, but I didn't see it in the food.
                            I'm not rushing to Bonita, 'cause it's not in walking distance from me.

                            1. Uhhh....No offense if there are some older clinton hill heads that have posted, but while I dig the new "scene" made by all the additions over the last five years or so, no one can hold a candle to the old, original Castro's on Myrtle across from the Post Office. Their Bistec Nachos are f-f-f-f-phenomenal!! the guac is the real deal. Their burritos are enormous. The best part is there are no WHITE people behind the counter. I went there the other day and was susprised that they didn't have the funky Mexican jukebox blasting. The place seems to be doing well based on their recent renovations, which IMO were unecessary. i liked the grimey authenticity of the place from back in the day. Check out their Limeaid concoction (non-alcoholic!).

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: isellny

                                As a person who might others ethnophenotypologically categorized as a WHITE Mexican-American, I am almost offended. Oh, but I forgot-- nothing can spoil the authenticity of a dining experience like white people, unless that white person happens to be Rick Bayless. All irony aside, let's stick to the topic. What's your latest take on Bonita's?

                                1. re: worm

                                  Funny you should ask! I haven't been. I drove by the other night and actually thought it was a new Sushi place. The signage is strangely Asian. Only when I stumbled across this thread did I figure out that this is the new Sushi place on Dekalb, which isn't Sushi at all, but Mexican! I think I might have to try and go all Apocalypto up in that piece!

                              2. Just say no - this place used to be good (like the one in Williamsburg), but now the service is slow and incorrect, they pack you in the place like sardines, and recently after a HORRID dining experience, we were CHASED DOWN THE BLOCK by a server and manager, and harassed about why we didn't leave a bigger tip (we left 10%, for reasons too numerous to state). We're not really sure what they wanted from us, because after a few minutes of arguing, we offered them more money and they wouldn't take it....so apparently they just wanted to make us feel bad while they neglected their other customers in the restaurant? Skip the drama, there are other fab places in the neighborhood with better food and better prices, where you (hopefully) won't have to deal with harassment.