Xixa, Mexico is a hit in New York

Latin cuisine reaps success in the Big Apple. Now also thanks to a small, great restaurant in Williamsburg

Xixa, Mexican cuisine in Brooklyn, from Jason Mar

Xixa, Mexican cuisine in Brooklyn, from Jason Marcus (chef) and Heather Heuser (in the dining room). Photo from xixany.com

There’s a growing phenomenon in New York: Mexican restaurants with native or non-native chefs. There’s Cosme, now in the heavens of the World’s 50Best and there’s Empellon from Alex Stupak (3 restaurants). Could Williamsburg not be part of the Nueva Cocina Mexicana restaurant scene? Of course not, because in this neighbourhood in Brooklyn trendy is a religion, so it has to be a part of it.

Xixa (pronounced “shiska”, the Yiddish word for a non-Jewish woman) is not easy to find: it has only a small sign on its façade, following a popular trend, which I find hard to understand.

4th South is not a street where you might walk by: cars drive fast in front of the restaurants, bound to the Williamsburg Bridge on the way to Manhattan. Yet when subway line L will close at the end of the 2019 winter, and for at least a year, the southern part of the neighbourhood will enjoy a strong explosion of interest, and accessibility. The only lines to connect the area with the city will be the M and J lines, which stop in Mercy Avenue, a few hundred metres from Xixa.

Jason Marcus and Heather Heuser are partners in life and in business. He’s Jewish, she’s not: the name of the restaurant is dedicated to her. Chef Jason has been a globetrotter, with a couple of important experiences at Le Bernardin and Eleven Madison Park. Heather has the gift of hospitality. She built her career working in various hotels and restaurants.

They started with Traif, a sort of tapas bar focused on pork, only a few shop windows from Xixa. Tireless travellers, they became fascinated with Mexico, so much so Jason thought he has an imaginary twin who inspires him in designing the menu.

The menu is full of contaminations coming from all over including Italy in their Fricco-dilla of Asiago, crushed potatoes, our green chorizo, sunny egg, black bean, tomatillo. They make a version of guacamole with puréed broad beans. And there’s ceviche: with scallops, char, tuna…

Like CosmeXixa also serves duck with a strong resemblance to the Beijing version. After all, they eat tortillas in China. This version has mushrooms, chilli pepper, raisins and a roasted banana. It’s an extraordinary dish, richer and better than the starred version. At the end, don’t miss the churros, fried pastries with sugar.

The wine list, with 200 wines, is also interesting; yet their forte are cocktails, which are based on MargaritaMichelada and Sangria. They explore new horizons thanks to the creativity of the mixologist.

241 South 4th street
Brooklyn, New York
United States
Dishes: 8/24 dollars
Tasting menu: 45 dollars (6 courses)

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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