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Pedro's Spanish American Restaurant

Posted by Keith in New York + Places on 22/Apr/2008
Pedro's This past weekend, we're wandering around Dumbo — that neighborhood that takes place between and beneath the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and seems comprised almost entirely of organic food marts and upscale designer baby clothes boutiques — searching for the Lomographic Society Store, because I'm supposed to pick up some film there for a project that will end up as an exhibit somewhere in Vienna, which I assume no one is going to offer to fly my over to for free. It turns out that the Lomo Store is a distribution center on the third floor of a building that's under construction, and they aren't open on Saturdays. But it was a lovely day, so my failure to pick up the film hardly mattered, and we spent the sunlight kicking about a neighborhood with which I'm fairly unfamiliar.

By and by, I got rather hungry and thoughts inevitably turned to food. I wasn't in the mood for food from a store where every single item on the shelves was accompanied by a three-page print-out about the environmental philosophy of the company that produced it, and while the thought of a lunch consisting entirely of candy from Jacques Torres' chocolate store appealed greatly to me, I was also aware of the fact that the past two months of eating nothing but Korean chicken wings had caused me to get to that point where even when I'm sucking it in, I still have a gut. So I bravely denied myself the pleasure (though I did by an assortment of chocolates for later) and went on looking for somewhere a little less deadly. I was in the mood for a hot dog and beer, which is only a healthy meal when compared to my previous idea of a meal of ultra-rich chocolate. But there were surprisingly few hot dog vendors about the place, and in stark contrast to my own neighborhood, no guys wandering around offering to sell you a Corona for a buck fifty. However, while walking up Jay Street, I suddenly caught a whiff of…is that…is that taco? Yes it is. And suddenly all I wanted was tacos and beer. Luckily, Pedro's Spanish American Restaurant and Bar was waiting on the corner of Jay and Front Street (73 Jay St., between Front and Water) to give me exactly what I wanted.

From the outside, Pedro's looks like the kind of place that you might not want to patronize. In stark contrast to the bland new high rises going up across the street, Pedro's is dingy, run-down, and looks like the whole place is about to collapse. But it had outdoor seating, beer, and those things combined with the smell of tacos was more than enough to convince us to overlook the homely appearance and step inside. The interior is not much better, but it's exactly the kind of place a man of adventure like me finds himself comfortable within. The walls are wood paneled. The ceiling is like six feet up, which means even a man of my modest stature can stride across the floor and feel like a mighty giant. The menu options are hand-written on flourescent colored pieces of cardboard taped to the walls. On one side is a counter where you get your food, and on the other side is a ramshackle bar serving up beer, tequila, sangria, and mojitos, among other things.

We went for beef tacos and chicken empanadas with frosty Negro Modello. My associate described the empanada as the best she'd ever had. The tacos were not far behind, though they could have benefited greatly from fresh rather than thawed tortillas. Still, absolutely delicious all the way around. The place is obviously a family business, and it's really like wandering into someone's kitchen for a bite. It's not what you would call a clean establishment exactly, but heck, it's been a few days and I'm not sick, so that's good enough for me. This is the sort of neighborhood joint that is becoming increasingly rare, especially in a place like Dumbo, which for all its hip factor (it's like Williamsburg for married couples with children) is surprisingly sparse in options for anything that isn't an organic market.

Tacos set us back a couple bucks. The beer was four dollars. The Spanish language cover of Elvis' “I Can't Help Falling Love With You" playing on the sound system was free with the price of lunch. They were doing a steady business, with a crowd of local hipsters and Mexican construction workers, so hopefully this squat little establishment will hold on even as towering luxury condos spring up around it. As much as I like fancy food, it's hard to beat beer and tacos on a gorgeous spring day.

Pedro's Spanish American Restaurant
73 Jay St,
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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