You won’t find these dishes anywhere else. Every dish that comes out of Xixa’s kitchen showcases the Mexican influence, with a unique twist and high quality ingredients that has a serious ‘wow’ factor. Why someone hasn’t created Guacamole “Hummus” before is beyond me. It’s a gift to all girls obsessed with having both of these staples at every movie night.
Xixa, pronounced “shiksa,” hides below the Williamsburg Bridge, off the mysterious J Train stop and past a series of dark bodegas. The restaurant itself is unmarked, proving that it’s a locals only kind of a spot. Xixa is owned by the same people as Traif, the number one spot on my Hit List for the past year. After my visit to Xixa, Traif needs to be visited this month, no questions asked.
Once inside, you no longer feel like you’re in no man’s land Brooklyn. It’s impeccably decorated, with over-sized, comfortable chairs at each table. The front of the restaurant houses a long wooden table, along with the booths toward the back to accommodate bigger groups.
My friend, Val, had already visited Xixa and helped to guide me through the menu, especially the cocktail portion. They have an extensive list of tequilas, including ones infused with other liquors, which I didn’t know was even possible. In addition they have a list of “cubes,” which are pretty much the greatest gift to liquor lovers. Instead of serving drinks over a typical ice cube, they create a favorite cocktail, garnishes and all and freeze it. You pick your poison, and the waitress pours it over your chosen cube. As the ice cube melts, you get a completely different drink and flavor profile. I ordered the Old Fashioned Cube.
I selected the Bourbon Infused Tequila (yes, this is apparently a thing, and yes, it is frickin’ awesome). The waitress poured the liquor over the cube to create a ridiculously smooth drink, which would eventually turn into an Old Fashioned Cocktail. Who needs to order two drinks when they’re both in the same glass? Genius.
At the bottom of the very long and descriptive menu, there’s a little note saying “Chefs Tasting Menu is Available for Parties of 3 or more for $40.” We asked the waitress what the tasting menu entailed, and if it would be possible to do this just for two. She explained that it could definitely be done for 2, and that they bring out about 10-12 courses depending on our hunger level as we go on. We were both sold. This took away the pressure of deciding what dishes to order and would give us a great taste of their favorite dishes.
As it turned out, they ended up bringing a majority of the dishes we had been eying, along with ones that we somehow totally missed seeing. It was absolutely perfect, coursed out wonderfully over the course of two and half hours. We could have easily stayed longer if we didn’t have our various modes of transportation to catch. Here’s a rundown of the meal.
Dish #1: Charred Octopus
Smokey, perfectly cooked pieces of tiny octopus, allowing for tons of tentacle pieces to be found throughout. For those of you, like myself, who find the crispy tentacle pieces to be the best part, you’ll find plenty here. Balanced by the smoky paprika and creamy beans, this dish is really wonderful.
Dish #2: Mexico-City Style Sauteed Edamame
A play on the favorite Japanese restaurant finger food, Xixa utilizes chili, lime and toasted garlic instead of the usual dousing of salt. They’ve got a lovely kick of spice, adding to the usual subtle, and somewhat dull bean. You know how you always like the saltier pieces? Imagine chili and spices instead of salt. Yeah, awesome.
Dish #3: Big Eye Tuna Sashimi
Beautiful pieces of sliced, bright tuna get a face lift from equally fresh fruit ingredients. Spice and sweetness and crunch lend their flavor and texture to the big eye tuna. When the fish is fresh, you can never go wrong.
Dish #4: Foie Gras al Pastor
My favorite dish of the night. Seared foie gras prepared to perfection, already oozes decadence with its silky, seductive texture. Now, serve foie on top of torrejas, Mexican French Toast, with a thin layer of Chipotle Pineapple and a drizzle of honey, and you can die happy. Nothing is wrong with this dish. It’s beautiful and perfect and I’m dreaming about it.
Dish #5: Guacamole “Hummus”
Every girl’s spreadable dream right here. Why this match made in girls night heaven hasn’t been made before blows my mind. Imagine traditional guacamole with the consistency of hummus. Spice from the jalapeno runs throughout, along with a smokiness from the paprika. The fluffy “pita” is the ideal vessel for enjoying the spread, as well as the crispy masa chips served on the side. Xixa should package and sell this; I want to serve it at my next movie night.
Dish #6: Seared Pork Belly Carnitas with Brussels Sprout & Corn Slaw
Common. The crispy exterior houses the incredible pork belly which breaks apart with one subtle touch of your fork. It’s extremely flavorful, absorbing all of the juicy fat into every crevice of the meat. It contains all of the rich flavor of pulled pork, yet kept together with a beautiful sear on the outside. The brussels sprout and corn slaw on the side is a breath of fresh air next to the rich meat. Another winner.
Dish #7: Braised Short Rib Mole
Okay, when this dish arrived in front of me, my stomach dropped a bit thinking we had reached the dessert part of our tasting course. I was already feeling full, but I wanted more. Then the waitress said “short rib mole,” my attention peaked and I couldn’t believe the deception. The gorgeous, deep chocolate mole coated the short rib, infusing the deep cocoa flavor into every pore. The sticky rice underneath took a back seat to the amazing mole, a sauce which takes years to perfect. On the list of favorites, this short rib certainly placed right behind the foie gras.
Dish #8: Seared Scallops with Uni Risotto
At first glance, you can see the beautiful golden sear on the sea scallops. The translucent inside proves the skill that went into creating this dish, perfectly cooked with the crisp exterior. Underneath, however, was the real gem of the dish. Uni risotto proves to be as ridiculous as it sounds. It’s creamy, with the gorgeous briny flavor only achieved through the decadent and expensive sea urchin.
Dish #9: Duck Lettuce Wraps with Banana Puree
Banana Puree is no longer just for babies. It’s frickin’ ridiculous, as I found myself trying to lick this portion of the plate clean, as the not so camera friendly mush stole the show from the braised duck. The creating the lettuce wrap itself with a huge helping of the banana puree and topped with the duck and peanuts, made for a really great dish. I didn’t understand the purpose of the cucumber and tomato salad, haphazardly placed on the side of the puree, almost there to make you feel less guilty about enjoying the decadence of the other components. Duck & Banana together just might be one of my new favorite combinations. Who would’ve thought?
Dish #10: Flan with Huckleberry Sauce and Jasmine Ice
We’ve finally arrived at the sweets portion of our meal. As the two of us clenched our stomachs, we couldn’t help but finish off this beautiful and skilled dessert. The creamy flan was absolutely perfect, but the light and aromatic jasmine ice, topped with a warm huckleberry sauce played with temperature and texture. It’s a refreshing dessert, especially after an insanely decadent meal.
After this dessert, we happily admitted defeat. Anything else would probably taint the amazing experience, as I would be clutching my stomach all the way home. They left us with one little sweet, a small dark chocolate with chili and mezcal sauce to cleanse the palate, which we, of course, both ate.
I really can’t pinpoint a dish I didn’t absolutely adore. Everything was wonderful and completely unlike any dish I’ve ever seen before. The utilization of insane, high quality ingredients in such an artful way and infused into Mexican cuisine is nothing short of brilliant. For the money too, I cannot believe I walked out of there paying less then $55, including alcohol.
Do yourself a serious favor, grab your favorite foodie friend, venture underneath the bridge and put your meal in the chef’s hand. He will never disappoint.
Xixa – 241 South 4th Street – New York, NY
Location: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Perfect For: Impressing Foodies, Girls’ Night Out, Drinks, Prix Fix, Date Night
Reservations: Call 718.388.8860
Favorite Dishes: Foie Gras al Pastor, Braised Short Rib Mole, Pork Belly Carnitas, Guacamole “Hummus,” Charred Octopus