Heading to the depths of Bed-Stuy is definitely not top of everyone’s New York to-do list. However, the teeny tiny restaurant that is Calaca is about to change that. The windows tend to be flung open and the bopping music and flowing conversation bring to life the otherwise silent street.
Calaca serves Mexican food but if you’re after a fiery burrito, this isn’t for you. Arrive early: happy hour happens every day until 7pm. No New Yorker can resist $5 margaritas made with small-batch Mexican tequila and fresh lime juice. You also need to beat the crowds: there are only 20 seats. Despite the restaurant’s under-the-radar status, it doesn’t take many in-the-know locals to beat you there and leave you waiting in the fairy light-clad street for up to an hour.
The seafood-forward menu hales from coastal Mexican state Sinaloa and is brimming with fresh, bright flavors. The flour tortillas are made to fresh to order – in a kitchen that’s roughly the same size as my closet – and filled with avocado, chilli, crunchy vegetables, cilantro and fresh fish.
Order the tuna tostada. This crisp tortilla topped with chipotle mayo, finely sliced avocado, lightly marinated tuna and a sprinkle of sesame is perhaps the single best thing I’ve eaten in New York. I promise that’s not the margaritas speaking.
Calaca, 139 Putnam Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238.
Photo: Hannah Hoskins.