Hola, Brooklyn

Fonda opens on the sly in Park Slope

It's unclear why New York's Mexican food scene lags behind that of other cities. But Los Angeles can have its legendary taco trucks–and Chicago can keep Rick Bayless–as long as we have Roberto Santibañez.

This chef, who headed the kitchens at Austin's vaunted Fonda San Miguel and NYC's Rosa Mexicano during its heyday, has finally set off on his own. And instead of launching some glitzy, PR-driven place in Midtown (as you might expect from someone of his pedigree), he quietly opened his 35-seat restaurant, Fonda, in Park Slope last month.

While most of the city's cantinas serve the same old stuff (you'd think Bloomberg required all Mexican restaurants to sell mole poblano), Fonda offers contemporary cuisine rooted in traditional and flavors, but not bound by them–food you're more likely to find in Santibañez's native Mexico City than in Sunset Park.

As a result, the menu features modern creations like hazelnut mole, which adds an aromatic punch to shrimp enchiladas ($15), and other uncommon dishes, like braised duck tucked between two corn tortillas ($9) and coated with a spicy roasted tomato-habanero salsa.

All of Santibañez's flavors are so bold–and so very Mexican–that even the requisite enchiladas suizas ($12) and made-to-order guacamole ($9) are a marvel. Eat that, L.A.

Fonda, 434 Seventh Ave. (between 14th and 15th sts.), Brooklyn; 718-369-3144 or fondarestaurant.com