Dinner seems to come early when it's already pitch black by 5 p.m. But Gran Electrica in Dumbo is ready for the darkness, with candles flickering and a kaleidoscope of dishes to light up the table. Some highlights: a radiant green aguachile of raw scallop and cucumber, in a sluice of cilantro, lime, and mint, punctuated with drops of golden olive oil; a lake of scarlet mole, shimmering and burnished, the meshing of many toasted chiles; and a stunningly red beet margarita, like a fresh juice from the corner juicer for ascetic mornings of reparation, earthy and barely sweet.
Gran Electrica opened earlier this year, one door down from the new Grimaldi's, owned by the team behind Colonie and Governor, where elegant preparations of cod froth, tapicoa pearls, and smoked tomato water reigns. Here you'll find swiss chard simmered with cream, tangled with strips of roasted pepper and cubes of skin-on potato, an arresting filling for a taco (2 for $7).
The torta ahogada ($13), the French Dip of Mexican cuisine, is a pork-stuffed sandwich soaked in a tomato-chili broth; it's served with plastic gloves on the side to aid the assault. It takes firm resolve to share the quesadilla, the masa translucent in sections, saturated by the crumbled chorizo, quesillo cheese, and potato inside ($10). Is the guacamole better than the mash served at under-the-7-train taquerias? I'd say yes. Is it worth the $13? That's for your wallet to decide.
This is Brooklyn, so the tortillas are pressed in-house, the cocktails change with the season, and they've gone out of their way to source the delicious Corona Familiar in brown squat 32 ounce bottles, which is about the only thing that can dampen the heat of their grapefruit spiked habeñero salsa.
Not everything works. The gorditas are far too crisp and stuffed with glass-like shards of chicharron. Some dishes need the guidance of more learned hand, the wisdom of generations that would know what step the mole passed over, what is missing from the pozole.
But the menu shifts occasionally, so there's always a different fish preparation, like the tostada de jaiba ($13), with sweet shreds of peekytoe crab meat, or a new taco to try. Clamorous herbs and brutish vegetables that are so often shunned get treated nicely here. On their opening menu they served a torta de huazontle, a seasonal green with miniscule broccoli-like beads that have to be plucked from woody stems. It's a tedious plant that most taquerias won't touch, transformed into a simple and earnest dish, a pleasure to eat.
About the author: Scarlett Lindeman wears many hats as a food-writer, recipe editor of Diner Journal, a food/arts quarterly, and a doctoral student of sociology. E-mail her at email@example.com.