Acclaimed, itinerant chef Denisse Lina Chavez is making her beloved El Atoradero tacos again at indoor-outdoor bar Parklife in Gowanus — great news for anyone who has missed her carnitas on hand-made blue corn tortillas since she left her popular Prospect Heights Mexican restaurant in March. Update: According to information received after the publication of this story, Chavez is not in the kitchen at El Atoradero, and her son Johnny is serving as the chef, making his own versions of the family’s recipes.
In addition to tacos, the El Atoradero menu at Parklife features nachos, burritos, and flautas. There’s a “taco Tuesday” special of three tacos for $8. And there’s a limited late-night menu after 11 p.m. See the full menu below.
Chavez’s former business partner Noah Arenstein used to run Taqueria Madre in the Parklife space but ended its tenure. Now, El Atoradero has a one-year lease with the bar, and Arenstein is not involved. Chavez’s children Johnny and Anabel Rosas are the owners of El Atoradero at Parklife.
Chavez has bounced around a lot in the past few years, but where her tacos go, the accolades always follow. Her standout Bronx taco shop Carnitas El Atoradero shuttered after a rent hike in 2015, but Arenstein and other business partners worked with her to open another El Atoradero in Brooklyn, where it quickly became a critical hit. Chavez’s well executed menus went on to earn the restaurant three stars from Eater critic Robert Sietsema. It had a spot on the Eater NY 38 until her departure.
In May, El Atoradero in Prospect Heights flipped into Madre Cocina & Mezcales with food by Christoper Torres, a former line cook at El Atoradero. While Chavez is no longer in the kitchen and said she was leaving for good in March, according to Arenstein she remains a partner at Madre Cocina & Mezcales. Eater has reached out to Chavez’s representatives for more information.
This story has been updated to reflect that Chavez is not the chef at Atoradero at Parklife. A representative for Parklife initially noted that Chavez was at the helm of the venture, but Chavez’s son Johnny reached out to clarify that he is the chef alongside his sister Anabel, who runs the business side.