Serious Eats: New York
Red Hook Ballfields' Country Boys Open a Restaurant in South Slope
There are good reasons that the Country Boys, a Mexican antojito truck, are one of the most popular stops at the Red Hook Ball Fields' ring of Latin American food vendors. Those larger than life huaraches and quesadillas are some of the most satisfying Mexican bites in the city: layers of masa, meat, and salsa that achieve a depth of flavor and chin-dripping messiness matched by few others.
Their truck is only out during the summer when the Ball Fields are active (they also appear at Smorgasburg), leaving us huarache-less for too many months of the year. So when we learned that the team behind the truck opened a full service restaurant in South Slope, we got pretty excited.
It's too early to give a definitive report, but our first impressions: we're excited this restaurant is here, but it needs some work to get up to the truck's levels of deliciousness.
The dining room looks like your typical nice taqueria, roomy and comfortable with stools against a long counter and four-tops on the other side. The menu covers breakfast items like pancakes, but also chilaquiles and huevos rancheros. For lunch and dinner you'll find the truck's roster of masa-based huaraches, tacos, and quesadillas, with larger plates as well.
About those Chilaquiles ($7, $8 with eggs): you can order them with red or green salsa, and they're one of the simple and satisfying dishes we'd return for right now. The thick tortillas are fried crisp—and stay that way, with just a thin coating of sauce. Some tableside salsa additions up the flavor considerably while keeping the texture intact.
The huarache and quesadilla standbys of the truck ($7 each) are close to the original, but not quite. Ours lacked the delicate griddled char that makes the large tortillas such a joy to eat. The toppings fare better, closer to the truck's standard, and certainly fulfill a winter Country Boys craving.
But it wasn't until the we reached the Monday special, Adobo Verde de Cerdo ($9), that we got really excited. The large hunks of pork shoulder are tender with crisp meaty edges, and the salsa verde that smothers them is tangy, sweet, and moderately hot. It acts as a foil to the rich pork, not just another condiment, and it also livens up the standard refried beans and rice considerably.
Though the less said about the Enchiladas ($9) the better: the lifeless tortillas and cottony chicken within them aren't up to snuff with what we know the Country Boys can deliver.
That said, this is a place we're keeping our eye on as the restaurant settles into its space. The team behind the truck and restaurant, which won the first Vendy Award in 2009, is one to root for, and at the very least this restaurant will be an inconsistent but tasty addition to the Mexican offerings north of Sunset Park—to say nothing of a craving fix for Country Boys fans.
The restaurant is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Country Boys Restaurant
568 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215