With El Atoradero’s absence of a chef — acclaimed Denisse Lina Chavez left in March — the well-liked Brooklyn taqueria has closed to make way for a similar Mexican restaurant from the same owners, but with a new chef. Madre Cocina & Mezcales, at 706-708 Washington Ave. between St. Mark’s Avenue and Prospect Place, opens tonight with a menu of tacos and other straightforward Mexican fare from Christoper Torres, a former line cook at El Atoradero.
Also new to the venture is Antonio Vilches, who joins Madre as a general manager. He was a partner from Mexicocina, a well-received Oaxacan restaurant in the Bronx that Times critic Ligaya Mishan said serves “food that makes you feel loved.” Mexicocina also has a Michelin bib gourmand.
Madre will have tacos, using blue corn masa ground in-house — for sale retail or wholesale — filled with options such as carnitas, cecina, and shrimp, alongside three kinds of enchiladas, a burrito, a quesadilla, and chilaquiles verde. The full menu is below and will expand after the weekend.
A large part of Madre is its focus on mezcal. The 250-bottle list has many bottles of the smoky spirit, plus raicillas, sotols and uncertified destilados de agave. Artemio Vaszquez (Pegu Club, PDT) made a cocktail menu to with various mezcal drinks and seasonal margaritas, with happy hour pricing daily from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
This renovation combines the Madre cocktail bar space with El Atoradero’s former dining room for one seamless business. El Atoradero and Madre had been closed for about two weeks, the windows papered over while the two spaces combined for a total of 55 seats inside, and another 20 outside. The original bar is gone, with a wooden banquette added up front, new floors, and a different color scheme.
Owners Noah Arenstein and Jared DeLine had opened El Atoradero with Chavez in 2015, and it was a critical hit. The restaurant’s carnitas, albondigas enchipotladas, and chilaquiles earned three stars from Eater critic Robert Sietsema and landed on best Mexican restaurant lists. With Chavez gone to pursue her own project, they were forced to make this switch.
Madre is now open for dinner daily from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., and for lunch Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The bar is open late.
Update: This post has been updated to correct that Vilches is not the chef, but the general manager. Christopher Torres is the chef.