The team behind Michelin-starred Mexican restaurant Oxomoco is calling it quits at Xilonen, their more casual vegan restaurant in Greenpoint. In a text message to Eater, owner Justin Bazdarich confirmed that the restaurant will not be reopening following a two-month temporary closure. He attributed the decision to “factors outside our control,” including operating restrictions on restaurants during the pandemic and the latest wave of omicron.
It’s a quick run for the meatless Mexican restaurant, which was barely open a year. Xilonen opened in December 2020, and appeared to have all the makings of an instant hit: a well-lit corner location, an acclaimed chef leading its kitchen, and a history in the neighborhood thanks to Oxomoco, one of three Michelin-starred Mexican restaurants in New York City, from the same team. But Xilonen, which Eater critic Ryan Sutton gave an encouraging review early on, never quite took off as planned.
The restaurant, whose plating and prices could have appeared on an upscale tasting menu, was limited to serving its dishes in compostable, takeout-friendly containers to start, due to a citywide ban on indoor dining at the time. Shortly after Xilonen opened for indoor dining, head chef Alan Delgado departed from the restaurant due to undisclosed circumstances. Later in the year, Momofuku alum Yara Herrera was hired to lead the kitchen, and the menu was reworked with an all-day cafe angle to include nachos with pickles and brown beans, charred broccoli burritos, and a celery root milanesa torta. The restaurant didn’t manage to secure its liquor license until last fall, after it had already been open for over six months.
Xilonen temporarily closed in December, amid a larger wave of closures in north Brooklyn due to the omicron variant. It’s the second restaurant from Bazdarich to close during the pandemic, following the Lower East Side location of Speedy Romeo in 2020. The space that Xilonen occupied was previously home to Maison Premiere offshoot Sauvage, which also shut down in 2020.
Bazdarich is now turning his attention to the opening of Bar Tulix, a Mexican fine dining restaurant set to open in Manhattan later this month.
Emma Orlow contributed reporting.