Hecho en Dumbo
New York, NY 10012
Pssst…remember me? I’m that jerk that ruined your chances of enjoying any meal at Mesa Coyoacán. I’m that person that told you that the carnitas in Vamos Al Tequila were an affront to all carnitas everywhere (and an attack to one is an attack to all). I am also the one that made fun of your pansy ass for liking shi-shi Mexican. And I am here to say something that’s very hard for me.
Ready? Here it goes:
I was wrong. There IS indeed such a thing as good shi-shi Mexican in New York. And although it shames me even more to admit it, it doesn’t even have to be made in Brooklyn.
But it DOES have to come from the OTHER greatest city in the world: DF. May I present to all of your palates Hecho En Dumbo. Don’t let the name fool you: Hecho en Dumbo is no longer made in Dumbo—now it has re-colonized the haute cuisine world of the East Village on Bowery, and my stomach couldn’t be happier. I’ve eaten at Hecho back in the day when its home was the Bowery of the BK (aka Dumbo) and I wanted to go back because I wondered if I was too glamored and desperate—a combination of being a young lady in NYC charmed by the cobblestone glory of the Dumbo lofts, the part of Brooklyn with its gallantly rich and somewhat sparkly underbelly—and a combination of being just a Central American girl dying for a good tortilla in a city where there is none. Would Hecho still hold a candle to my favorite La Superior? Would I find out that not all good Mexican food is created equal?
And I’m not saying that it is—La Superior is very much a cantina, small plates, loud atmosphere, bright colors and all. And Hecho is a place to go to on a date, with its soft lighting, subtle older mismatching wood furniture and yes, square plates. After all, this place is born out of the haute cuisine world of Mexico City, aka el DF, Chilangolandia, el Defecado, and whatever else you may want to call it. Call it what you will though—DF is a foodie’s paradise. And Hecho’s chef, Danny Mena, knows this. He also knows how to make a good everything.
OK, so full disclosure—I did not eat everything on the menu. Not this time. BUT I did try 4 things in two visits: molletes, queso fundido, saltaditas de jaiba and cochinita pibil. Oh, and guacamole, but that’s like a condiment, right? Doesn’t count? Also, since we are being all honest and such, you should know that these pictures are from the internet because the awesome mood lighting was so moody that my weak camera’s knees quaked like a schoolgirl waiting for her prom date and the pictures I took did not even turn out half decent.
OK so meal the first: dinner. Let me just start off by saying that I have NO complaints. I will let you take a moment to let that sink in.
The guac, which looked pretty mediocre, ended up being perfect. Perfect texture, perfect seasonings, perfect everything. Then came the saltaditas de jaiba (see above). And OMG. These were a bundle of sweet crabmeat on a perfect thick sort of arepa-like patty with chopped cilantro and a slice of avocado. They had the perfect amount of finishing salt and I don’t know how they did this, but the arepita did not get soggy. The presentation was sublime—a beautiful color combo all perfectly arranged in a square plate. Pair that with the lime on the side? I mean, I could go on all day.
Then came the three gorgeous cochinita pibil sopes, which I can only describe as slices of pig heaven. On a bed of perfect refried beans. And topped with succulently seasoned pickled red onions. All atop a homemade tiny tortilla. Why this staple is so not a staple in most Mexican joints is beyond me. This is the go-to, amigos. If you are pork eater, please eat the cochinita pibil.
Now, meal the second: brunch. Brunch is a meal best served hung over. And molletes are your go-to rescue ships. Bread, refried beans, cheese and salsa rescue ships. Molletes should be served all the time. They are basically a Mexican open-faced sandwich on crusty, delicious bread called bolillo. You can drizzle the top with crema, aka Mexican crackcreme. Just hook it to my veins.
Then I also had queso fundido. The queso fundido is the best cheese idea since fondue. Creamy Mexican cheese with chorizo and a crusty top from being oven-baked served to you with homemade, warm flour tortillas that are just the right amount of chewy. And it’s a great idea—if these were corn, the flavor combination would be too intense. Think of it as Mexican mac and cheese minus the mac (face it, the mac is merely a vehicle for cheese). See, that’s the thing—even at brunch this place is both satisfying and romantic—and like all good things, just the right amount of cheesy. Hecho En Dumbo has to be what jalapeño dreams are made of.