The little hole-in-the-wall on Williamsburg's South 4th Street that was formerly occupied by Snack Dragon has been transformed into a bright and inviting gem of a restaurant called Pokito. Co-owner Alex Kleinberg has been working in restaurants since he was 16—specifically the Clinton Street Baking Co., which his parents have owned and operated for decades. It's no surprise, then, that the pancakes at Pokito are outstanding.
N.B.: These pancakes are only available on Sundays, when the place is open for brunch, and Kleinberg says the menu will change frequently, so get 'em while they're hot. Pokito's chef, Andres Duran, makes them with sweet potatoes and corn meal, creating a texture that strikes a perfect balance between fluffy and crisp. They come with a delicious dollop of Mandarin honey cinnamon whip, raisins and almonds; the dish is almost substantial enough to share but you won't want to.
The rest of the menu at Pokito is sort of an eclectic commingling of Latin American, Japanese, Chinese and Thai. "I'm half Dominican, half Jewish and was born in Brooklyn," Kleinberg says, "But I grew up in the Dominican Republic. The food here is a mix of all the things my partners and I grew up eating and still eat now. We call it mutt food." (Chef Duran is from Mexico, another owner is half-Japanese.)
The short menu currently features a tasty and filling Shrimp Congee, with skewered shrimp and a poached egg over a warm helping of rice porridge. There are also yuca fries with a gochujang mayo; empanadas; and corunda: bamboo-wrapped masa cake with red pepper ranchero, sour cream and fried egg. Kleinberg, who also owns the juice bar next door, says they're committed to using the freshest possible ingredients, and it shows.
Chef Duran toils out of sight in the basement kitchen, sending the orders up in waves through a charming little dumbwaiter behind the marble-topped bar, which offers a selection of colorful cocktails and imported beer to wash down all the mutt grub. The vibe is convivial, and the sun-drenched space, with its Miami-esque accents, is a huge improvement over the dark and disorienting Snack Dragon.
155 South 4th Street between Bedford & Driggs // (TUES - THURS 6pm-12am FRI - SAT 6pm-2am (kitchen till 12) SUN 12pm-4pm