New Restaurants on the Radar: The Southwest Porch at Bryant Park, Calexico, Pod Cafe

<p>To promote their new service in and out of LaGuardia Airport (beginning June 28th), <a href="">Southwest Airlines</a> has enlisted celebrity chef Tom Colicchio to open a new al fresco lounge in the southwest corner of Bryant Park. <a href="">The Porch</a> (designed by Nancy Thiel Architecture + Design) comes complete with wicker swings, rocking chairs and Adirondack chairs, and power outlets for those who wish to take advantage of Bryant Park's free Wi-Fi. The porch is open to the general public, not just paying customers, though it's a safe bet that if you sit down long enough you'll eventually succumb to a pint of specially brewed Southwest Summer Ale, one of the local brews, or something off the summer cocktail menu. Colicchio's small-plates menu includes items like a New York Meatball Sandwich, Southwestern Pork Sandwich and Baltimore Crab Sandwich. <em>The Porch is open in Bryant Park Mondays through Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays from 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. </em></p>

<p>A bit of good news: the long-awaited <a href="">Calexico</a> location opened this afternoon on Union Street in Brooklyn, and it's already busy. The restaurant is the first from cart-operating Vendley brothers, who coincidentally took top honors last October at the <a href="">Vendy awards</a>. The new space has been filled with wooden benches and is decked out in honor of the Vendley's <a href=",_California">home town</a> (and the restaurant's namesake), perched on the California-Mexican border. As such, the former <a href="">Schnäck</a> space has been made over into a West Coast taqueria featuring marinated and grilled skirt steak swaddled in corn tortillas. Small dining room shrines to the towns of Calexico, and Brooklyn-themed pulp novels are featured alongside Lotería cards and skulls. The restaurant is equally devoted to habanero and chipotle peppers.</p><p></p>The menu is written on a chalkboard up front: a shortlist of tacos, tortas, burritos, and a few specials. Today, Anson Mills grits are being served with pulled pork (or tofu). Dave Vendley told <a href="">Grub Street</a> last week that the restaurant will add ribs and tamales to the rotating specials soon enough. And while it works out the kinks, Calexico will be open for lunch only during its first week. Liquor license is still in the works, so no micheladas just yet. The opening day menu, including vegetarian options, is submitted below for your approval. — <em>Hugh Merwin</em><p></p><em>Calexico Carne Asada // 122 Union Street // Brooklyn // (718) 488-8226 </em><p></p><strong>Menu</strong><strong>Carne Asada</strong> (burrito) $8; (taco) $4; (torta) $8; (quesadilla) $5 <strong>Pollo Asada </strong>(burrito) $7; (taco) $3; (torta) $7; (quesadilla) $6 <strong>Tofu Asada</strong> (burrito) $7; (taco) $3; (torta) $7; (quesadilla) $6 <strong>Pulled Pork</strong> (burrito) $7; (taco) $3; (torta) $7; (quesadilla) $6<strong>Bean</strong> (burrito) $6; (taco) $3; (torta) $6; (quesadilla) $5<p></p><strong>Add-ons: </strong>Guacamole, $1; Sour Cream, 50 cents; Crack, 50 cents; Extra Cheese, 50 cents; Extra Meat, $2.<p></p><strong>Special</strong>Anson Mills Grits $9Pork or Tofu<p></p><strong>Salad</strong> Mixed greens, grilled corn, cucumbers and avocados, radish, goat cheese, toasted sesame seeds, sherry vinaigrette. $7With chicken, $2; with steak, $3; with tofu, $2<p></p><strong>Sides</strong>Small Salad $3.5Chips $2Guac $6Roasted Salsa $2.5

<p>The Pod Cafe, a new seasonal garden restaurant nestled within <a href="">the Pod Hotel</a> in midtown east, quietly opened for breakfast and lunch last week; dinner service starts July 1st when the beer and wine license takes effect. The relaxing little oasis is the work of siblings Devon and Grace Girloy, the son and daughter of Billy Gilroy, who owns hotspots Employees Only and <a href="">Macao Trading Company</a>. Devon, the chef, has done time at Chanterelle and A Voce, and his locally-sourced menu features lunch items like Rustic nut roast beef sandwich with gruyere and horseradish aioli ($9.50); and a salad with Goat cheese, endive, walnuts with citrus vinaigrette ($9). Bread for sandwiches, provided by <a href="">Scratchbread</a>, includes your choice of Cherry whole wheat sprouted spelt, South slope sourdough, and Black pepper and fennel hand roll. </p><p></p> And breakfast options range from brown butter waffles with caramelized banana butter ($8) to a smoked salmon plate with cream cheese, mustard vinaigrette ($8), to fresh scones with berries and cream ($4). <em>230 East 51st Street (through lobby to garden out back); (212) 355-2547; open 7 days a week at 6:45 a.m. for breakfast and lunch, starting July 1st dinner service lasts until 10 p.m. nightly.</em>