The moment you walk into Oxomoco on a quiet street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, you feel like you have walked into a trendy restaurant on a resort somewhere in Tulum (which I haven’t been to yet but seems to be quickly overtaking its better known counterparts like Cancun). My wife Jun and I had an early reservation at the restaurant’s opening time of 5:30 p.m., but the line was already quickly forming with diners who are hoping to get walk-in bar seating. New York City dining scene has started to see an Oaxacan style of Mexican cuisine with up and coming restaurants like Claro in Gowanus (see my review here https://kenscale.com/2017/12/20/claro/) where wood fire has become a primary tool for soulful and exciting cooking from a country with rich culinary heritage, and Oxomoco (from the same team behind the acclaimed pizza restaurant Speedy Romeo) has quickly become the next hottest restaurant despite its location in the quiet yet slowly booming restaurant scene in Greenpoint. Jun and I have had a lot of satisfying dishes on our visit, and I’ve discovered two of my favorite dishes of the year here (although Jun didn’t necessarily agree with my assessment).
The beginning at Oxomoco was somewhat underwhelming. Jun and I always make a point to order guacamole when we go to a Mexican restaurant (for us, guacamole often is a pretty reliable barometer of the kitchen’s quality), and the one at Oxomoco, accompanied by smoked cherry tomatoes, turned out to be too sour for our taste (we tend to favor a blander version where we can focus on the texture of avocado). The next dish, a classic Oaxacan dish called tlayuda that looks like an open-faced quesadilla, fared better, especially with a smart touch from the kitchen by adding pomegranate on top of quesillo (Oaxacan cheese) to give a nice contrast in flavor and texture. Among the tacos, we ordered the one with lamb barbacoa that was quite fulsome with salsa, watercress and squash blossoms. I wished the tacos came out with slightly moderated flavor, but Jun was a huge fan of the dish for its complexity of flavor.
My favorite savory dish of the night came at the end. By now, I have had a lot of amazing chicken dishes with Jun, but I honestly couldn’t think quickly of a better one that I was eating at Oxomoco, with its honey-based pasilla paste, with all its moist and juicy texture. Add some crispy red rice on the side, and you have one heck of a dish. In a surprising twist, Jun, who often has similar taste to mine, acknowledged the chicken was good, but did not go all the way up to my level of endorsement. For the lone dessert we had ordered, though, Jun did rave (as did I) at the simple black sesame curd with sesame crumble and concord grape raspado (think Mexican shaved ice) that was so addictively delicious that we finished the bowl in a mere couple of minutes. It was a testament to how the kitchen deeply cares about combining different ingredients in a way that doesn’t compromise their attributes while also creating a contrast in flavor and texture that is ingenious.
As noted above, Oxomoco is likely to be one of the more difficult tables to book a table unless you do so in advance; you might want to try to line up shortly before the restaurant opens and see if bar seats are available (during our visit on a Sunday evening, the bar was completely full with eager diners looking to see what the kitchen brings to the table). There is full bar with some interesting cocktail mixes based on tequila and mezcal that would go well with the hearty dishes at Oxomoco. The dining space is quite a thing of beauty and already helps the restaurant score a few extra points in the ambiance department. Whether you are looking for a romantic date night or just a catch-up with old friends or family members, you are likely to get credit for selecting an excellent venue (although if you are looking for a quiet venue, the noise might become an issue at peak hours). Oxomoco is deservedly one of the most exciting newcomers in the New York City’s ever so diverse dining scene. Even if you live far from Greenpoint (Jun and I were coming from our home in Manhattan’s Financial District, which is not the easiest trip), if you are looking for a fresh take on Mexican cuisine, Oxomoco is well worth the visit.
KenScale: 8.25/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.25/10)
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 128 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Telephone: (646) 688-4180