More often than not, New York concepts trickle down south, setting up shop in cities like Washington, D.C., and Miami. But in mid-November, the tides turn: South Florida-based Mexican joint Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar (339 Adams Street, Brooklyn) is opening its doors in downtown Brooklyn.
Adorned with Mexican knickknacks, star-shape-punched metal lanterns, and a library-sized tequila selection, the boutique chain of restaurants is known for its lively bar scene. Each of the five existing locations offers extensive tequila options, but this newest locale will be even more expansive, with a collection of around 420. “It’s going to be the largest tequila bar in the entire Northeast,” says owner Rocco Mangel.
The space is the most ambitious yet. The 14,000-foot restaurant, a former Morton’s, is connected to the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. It will boast six banquet rooms and an 80-foot bar upstairs, which is slated to be the largest in the borough. DJs will play top 40 hits nightly.
Mangel, a Long Island native, is a large part of the draw. The consummate showman, he’s known for randomly popping into his restaurants, jumping on the bar, and pouring tequila into customers’ mouths, all while donning his signature white shoes. While he plans to keep his residence in West Palm Beach, he’ll be visiting the Brooklyn location weekly until it gets on its feet. “I’m always around a lot when I open a new location,” says Mangel. “I have an apartment in Fort Greene. I’ll be here on a regular basis until the store is up and running.”
As far as food goes, expect to see a wide range of Mexican-inspired dishes. Tacos ($3.25 for slow-roasted pork, $5.25 for carne asada) are built on house-made flour or corn tortillas, which come off of a comal, a flat griddle used throughout Mexico and Central America. Jalapeño rellenos ($11.50) are stuffed with cotija and fried, then drizzled with lime crema and avocado ranch; they’re a favorite at Mangel’s existing establishments. Molcajete seafood ($24 for single, $40 for two) is another popular dish; wild Gulf shrimp, scallops, mahi, and poblano peppers are baked in a stone bowl with calabaza squash, charred tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. Enchiladas mole poblano ($15.50) are also among the most-ordered items.
This sixth location is the first outside of Florida; it has been in the works for about five or six years. For the past half-decade, Mangel and his partners have been looking to establish the brand in the Northeast. But it was the changing landscape of Brooklyn that drew them in. “First of all, I’m from New York, so it’s good to be home,” says Mangel. “With the way Brooklyn is changing, we think we’ll fit in here. Being right under the bridge, with the visibility going into the city, right near the municipalities, the Barclays Center, and the Fulton Mall, it’s like the perfect storm. I don’t think Brooklyn is close to what it will be in a year or two.”
The eatery is slated to open in mid November, and an exact debut date will be posted on its Facebook page in the coming weeks. Visit facebook.com/RoccosTacosBrooklyn.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.