Mexican eateries may proliferate in South Williamsburg, but good Mexican food is still about as common as non-controversial bike lanes. The newly opened Cariño, however, is not just good Mexican — it’s revelatory.
From a group of former Bonita alumni, the menu at Cariño is lovingly prepared by cooks hailing from Puebla, Oaxaca and Vera Cruz — fitting, as cariño, after all, means love.
Interestingly, Cariño does not have a chef. Instead cooks impart their own sensibilities and background to the food, yielding cuisine that far surpasses most New York Mexican for its originality.
“We just put together all the things that we love to eat, with good, fresh ingredients,” said co-owner Yesenia Santibanez.
Few things at Cariño fall short of outstanding, and even those that do are delectable.
The gordita ($6) is a meal disguised as an appetizer, filled with a harmonious mixture of ground chorizo, potato, crema and salsa verde and served in the thickest, tastiest tortilla you’ll ever try.
The shrimp tacos ($9) are filled with mysteriously smoky shrimp that’s battered and fried, dressed simply in a fluffy, warm corn tortilla. The most-inspired menu item, however, is easily Ricardo’s Guacamole ($8), a fresh take on a menu standard incorporating the bitter Mexican herb papalo.
Without a chef, Santibanez explained, the food at Cariño is a labor of collective love.
“When you add love to food, even if it’s only three ingredients, it’s glorious,” she said.
Cariño [2 S. Fourth St. between Wythe Avenue and Berry Street in Williamsburg, (718) 384-8282].