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Calexico in Brooklyn

localfoodienyc Sep 12, 2008 03:44 AM

I walked by the former "Schnack" on Union St in Carroll Gardens West and saw signs for Calexico, the Mexican street cart that I love that's usually parked on Prince and Wooster in SoHo. Anyone know when it's planning on opening? Is this their first non-truck location?

  1. g
    Get In My Belly Sep 4, 2009 06:19 PM

    this is probably a stupid question, but i'm assuming this place has nothing to do with the calexico on 5th ave in park slope, right?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Get In My Belly
      Nehna Sep 5, 2009 04:25 AM

      Correct, nothing to do with it -- its related to the Calexico street cart in Soho.

    2. b
      boccalupo Jul 1, 2009 09:52 AM

      I was there last night. The place was really lively and busy both with people eating in at the tables as well as take out customers. Some will probably find it a fun place to eat in for a casual meal. Not sure if they plan to get a beer/wine license or allow BYO. Might be nice to sit at a table and enjoy a cold beer with the food. Dining area seems a bit bigger than Schnack's.

      I had a couple tacos to go just to try the place out. Carne asada (beef) and pulled pork. The tacos were made on double-wrapped soft corn tortilla and were light and fresh tasting. Really liked the carne asada. However, I'd probably need at least four to make a meal, and that would get a bit pricey at $3 or $4 a pop. But I'd guess the buritto might be a better bang for the buck. They also have tofu and chicken. I hope they add a fish taco at some point.

      I waited about 20 minutes for my order to be ready, but I don't consider that bad if I am getting good, freshly prepared food. I'd consider it "slow fast food." I suppose you might be able to call in an order ahead of time if the wait is bothersome. I'll have to ask them.

      I'm no expert on Mexican or Cal-Mex food, but I'd say it was quite good and I'd go back.

      BTW - You might want to check to make sure they are open before going. I did notice that they will only be open for lunch today 7/1 and will not be open on July 4th.

      2 Replies
      1. re: boccalupo
        Matt M. Aug 23, 2009 06:46 AM

        We tried it within the first couple of weeks of their long anticipated opening and were disappointed. We tried to chalk most of our disappointment up initially to the tantrum our son had that cut the evening short. However, when we looked back we were left wondering why it took so long to open a space with no table service and a relatively short menu. The taco and birrito we had were good, but not the amazing fare we were expecting based on the hype. The salad and guacamole were both pretty good though.

        We finally gave it another try the other night and that will probably be it for us. For one thing, the counter opnly service makes the dining area cramped and chaotic more often than not. Who really wants to be sitting and eating with a line of people snaking around them and staring? A 15-20 minute wait is common for orders, but why? Now, on to the food. It was again good, but nothing special. My wife and I both found ourselves with heartburn shortly after finishing our meal and woke up the next morning with heartburn still lingering. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me...We will not be returning for a 3rd time.

        1. re: Matt M.
          BigV Sep 4, 2009 08:55 PM

          Decided to finally try Calexico today. Was planning on heading to El Coyote in Jamaica for one of their lunch specials but sadly I learned that they had recently closed down. I figured 3pm on the Friday of Labor Day weekend should be a non busy time to try it. My fiance and I got a carne asada burrito, a carne asada torta, and a carne asada taco (yes we like carne asada). It's more than we planned to eat just for lunch but I was curious to sample the 3 items since I'm not usually in the area. The burrito was excellent- the meat was cooked well and had a good flavor. It also had ice, beans (black by default but I'll go pinto next time), cheese (might exclude it next time), onion, and pico de gallo. Their choice of salsas were all very tasty as well. The torta had good flavor and the sauce was very tasty- about to finish the half I have leftover. It may have just been because it was an off time but we had our food in less than 10 minutes.

          On the downside, I would like to know what pricing logic there is in charging $4 for a relatively small taco vs. $8 for a decent sized burrito. You'd need 3 or 4 tacos to feel full whereas 1 burrito would definitely satisfy most people. I'm also not used to chips being offered complimentary to customers who eat there, but I can deal with that.

          I will definitely make my way back to Calexico.

      2. q
        qbertplaya Jun 29, 2009 10:56 AM


        Went Friday 6/26 to the restaurant on Union St. around 145pm lunchtime. The place was noisy with a number of kids. We waited at least 20 minutes for our food, so that was perhaps the only hitch (hopefully it will get better as the restaurant gets more experience). Food was excellent -- we ordered the pulled pork burrito, chicken taco, special beef brisket in poblano cream sauce taco, and pulled pork grits (which were goopy and excellent). I have never eaten food from the carts, so no basis for comparison, though if I had to wait 20 minutes for food, I'd probably be annoyed.

        I am looking forward to trying other menu choices, especially once they expand it.

        1. Puppimus Jun 24, 2009 09:12 AM

          Did anyone go to opening day? Report, report!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Puppimus
            the_state Jun 24, 2009 02:00 PM

            i swung by around 8p and they were closed. apparently they're only doing lunch hours this week. they told me to come back around next tuesday for dinner.

            lots of veggie options in store, including grilled marinated tofu, anson mills cheese grits, veggie ragout tacos and much more. i'm personally excited to get my hands on a good carne asada taco within a 3 block radius! lord knows there's a huge shortage of decent mexican in the 'hood, even if them calexico boys aint entirely "authentic".

            1. re: Puppimus
              oolah Jun 24, 2009 02:12 PM

              I dropped by today and picked up a pulled pork burrito at lunch. The place was hopping but they got my order together in under 10 minutes.

              The burrito was good. Not the best I've every had, but good enough that I'll be back. I found the pulled pork sauce a little sweet, so I'll probably try a different meat option next time.

              1. re: Puppimus
                brooklyndude Jun 28, 2009 11:25 PM

                I tried to go around 5 tonight and they were closed. There was a sign on the door that said when they would be open the rest of the week, but I'm didn't write it down and don't want to give out bad information.

                Why their Twitter page doesn't give this info is beyond me if they are really open.

                1. re: Puppimus
                  fruitspam Jun 29, 2009 08:46 AM


                  i mean, the c.hillers/c.gardeners have some ethnic options but the GLARING HOLE was decent mexican. no longer!!

                  i was so charmed by schnack a few years ago but it just seemed to acquire a layer of grease and indifference in its waning years. that's gone. it's bright and cheery in there but still has a nice vibe... staff also seemed to learn what not to do re: schnack. aka. don't be a dick.

                  i had the special burrito, beef, um, something (?!) in roasted pablano cream. ahoy, matey. tasty and moist and tangy and fresh salsas and i am so happy. i will not forsake you, sunset park, but thank goodness mexico is no longer a car ride away...

                  welcome. and keep going! i'll eat anything you put on that menu.

                2. oolah Jun 17, 2009 07:37 AM

                  According to NY Mag, it's opening next Tuesday.

                  Will it really? I dunno.

                  They also have a twitter feed announcing cart locations, specials, and I'm assuming opening day.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: oolah
                    Puppimus Jun 19, 2009 05:29 PM

                    Tuesday is indeed opening day, according to a man working there today. The brown paper is finally off the windows, too.

                  2. b
                    brooklyndude Apr 2, 2009 08:36 AM

                    Any news on this?

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: brooklyndude
                      oolah Apr 2, 2009 07:45 PM

                      Still closed as of Sunday when I last walked by. No progress visible from the street.

                      1. re: brooklyndude
                        ScienceMike Apr 22, 2009 10:02 AM

                        According to Eater, someone at the cart says "three weeks."


                        Calexico's Red Hook storefront
                        122 Union St., Red Hook/Columbia Street Waterfront
                        Status: After receiving a number of reader inquiries regarding the hold up here—remember the plywood was first spotted back in September—we went to the cart to get the intel. According to one worker, she should be up and running in three weeks.

                        1. re: ScienceMike
                          Puppimus Apr 22, 2009 11:27 AM

                          I saw a silver van w/Calexico written on it driving around in the neighborhood a few days ago. I took it as a sign that something is happening, although there's never any action in the storefront when I walk by.

                          1. re: Puppimus
                            _burger May 8, 2009 02:41 PM

                            Just talked to a guy unloading the Calexico van on Union and he said that they'd be open around June 1st.

                            1. re: _burger
                              Puppimus Jun 9, 2009 12:18 PM

                              Still no action on Union. I hope this project hasn't gone bust!

                              1. re: Puppimus
                                oolah Jun 9, 2009 02:44 PM

                                My husband talked to some people who were working in there this weekend and they said "next week" meaning this week. There's definitely been some progress, but, as before, I think their estimates are way off. Maybe they'll open by July.

                      2. n
                        Nehna Dec 30, 2008 08:02 AM

                        any update from anyone on when this is opening?

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Nehna
                          oolah Dec 30, 2008 10:03 AM

                          I walked by yesterday and it looked the same as it did a few months ago. I'm starting to think this project is DOA.

                          1. re: oolah
                            squid kun Jan 15, 2009 07:09 AM

                            Just asked about this by e-mail. They're now hoping to open the restaurant in "about a month."

                            122 Union St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

                            1. re: squid kun
                              squid kun Jan 23, 2009 10:21 AM

                              OK, make that April. That's what the guy at the Broome/Broadway cart said today.

                            2. re: oolah
                              Puppimus Jan 19, 2009 07:48 AM

                              The Schnack sign is gone and the Calexico sign is up!!!

                          2. g
                            gfood Oct 28, 2008 08:24 PM

                            Isn't there a Calexico on fifth avenue, close to Flatbush? Is this the same owner as the food trucks?

                            1. Puppimus Sep 15, 2008 08:00 AM

                              Calexico had one of their taco carts parked in front of the old Schnack location on Saturday for a neighborhood street party. The owners said they closed on the location last week, and they expect to be open in about a month. I got a $3 black bean taco, my friend got a $4 steak taco, both delicious. Very excited about this!

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Puppimus
                                boccalupo Sep 15, 2008 02:14 PM

                                Great to hear that they already have a good reputation for street truck food. This new location is right in my nabe so I am looking forward to trying it. Seems like a perfect spot for it.

                                1. re: boccalupo
                                  the_state Oct 10, 2008 03:38 PM

                                  agreed... i think it'll be a success here. but who knows; i thought schnack was pretty awesome too and that didn't end up so well.

                                  either way, let's just pray for late hours. there's no good cheap food in the area (both sides of the BQE) open past 11p.

                                2. re: Puppimus
                                  Nehna Oct 12, 2008 01:27 PM

                                  Oh I think you officially made my day. I love the Calexico people.

                                  1. re: Nehna
                                    ScienceMike Oct 20, 2008 10:09 AM

                                    Agreed, can't wait, though a walk-by on Sunday gave little clues as to opening date. The front of the store is very much papered up, and the Schnack sign still hangs above the door.

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