Though chilaquiles or pancakes are common for a New York City brunch, owner and chef Julio Jiménez is trying to make a name for himself specializing in both and doing them well, with experimental flavor combinations unlike anyone else’s.
Newyorktitlan, located just a block from the Myrtle-Wyckoff subway station, at 1525 Gates Avenue, near Myrtle Avenue in Bushwick, opened around six years ago, focusing on breakfasts that combine his Mexican roots with his time spent working in top New York City restaurants for nearly two decades. The restaurant serves a few dishes beyond just chilaquiles and pancakes — a pork hash take on an al pastor taco with pineapple, chorizo, and eggs, for example — but the reason most customers visit is to find chilaquiles and pancakes in harmony: Nearly every table seems to have at least one of the two.
These aren’t your regular short stacks. Jiménez has served popcorn ice cream with candied grasshopper pancakes; a pancake takes on carrot cake; beer-batter pancakes, a white Russian option; and tres leches pancakes that come in and out of the menu as he pleases. Chilaquiles stick to classics in versions like rojo or verde with chorizo and eggs. Straightforward as they may be in comparison to the daily-changing pancakes, they’re a platonic ideal of the Mexican breakfast classic.
Jiménez grew up just outside of Mexico City. Since moving to New York nearly 20 years ago, he has worked front-of-house as a busboy, food runner, and server: everywhere from Wylie Dufresne’s Wd~50 to several Major Food Group restaurants. He had never been hired as a cook in a New York kitchen until opening Newyorktitlan with his family.
Originally, Newyorktitlan played it safe when it first opened in 2016, he says. They served bagels and salads, inherited from the former restaurant in the space that he and his family bought for $45,000, according to one video interview. Occasionally he rolled out pancakes and chilaquiles as specials here and there. Over the years, he introduced more dishes that reflect his Mexican heritage, but it wasn’t until 2021 that Jiménez decided to streamline the menu and double down on his signature takes on chilaquiles and pancakes, making them the Newyorktitlan calling card.
Jiménez is mostly alone in the kitchen, while his brother handles taking orders upfront. In fact, the restaurant, which stays open daily until 3 p.m. is just the beginning of Jiménez’s work day. By 3:30 p.m. he heads into Manhattan to work as a Major Food Group server for dinner. After evening service, he clocks out, goes home to sleep, then wakes up early to take his kids to school — and preps for Newyorktitlan’s menu all over again.
Working in restaurants has given Jiménez an opportunity to learn more about sourcing and other elements of running a restaurant. He dreams of a time in which Newyorktitlan is more self-sufficient and he’s able to focus entirely on it; as the case is with lots of NYC independent restaurants, it’s a struggle.
“Will we be here in a year? I’m not sure,” he says.
His ambitious plans haven’t all worked out: In 2022, following the success of a Righteous Eats TikTok that featured mochi waffles at Newyorktitlan, Jiménez expanded in Bushwick with a second restaurant called Waffles BK. Just a few months later, he closed the new venture. “Running two businesses was too much for one man,” he says.
These days, he’s trying not to bite off more than he can chew.
In the meantime, he’s focused on making the best versions of chilaquiles and pancakes possible to support his family. That means tinkering with recipes and flavor combinations, many of which are announced on social media. Often, Jiménez makes specials in such small quantities that he doesn’t always advertise them. It reinforces one of the core aspects of dining at Newyorktitlan: the element of surprise.