Txikito Chefs Branch Out to Brooklyn With La Vara, a Jewish-Spanish Outpost

Alex Raij. Photo: Patrick McMullan

Until now, it’s been easy for Alex Raij and her husband and partner Eder Montero to commute between their Spanish spots — the Chelsea tapas bar El Quinto Pino and its Basque sibling, Txikito, conveniently situated just across Ninth Avenue. That will change come early next year, when the co-chefs plan to open La Vara, their first Brooklyn venture, in the landmarked Cobble Hill space that briefly housed Breukelen. Although they weren’t actively seeking a Kings County location, Raij and Montero were charmed by the residential character of the surrounding blocks. “We wanted to go to a real neighborhood, not a commercial strip like Smith or Atlantic,” says Raij, who considers her establishments neighborhood restaurants that happen to serve Spanish food.

Alex Raij. Photo: Patrick McMullan

In the case of La Vara, that food (and wine) will take inspiration in part from the southern Mediterranean regions, and in part from the Moorish and Jewish legacies in Spanish cuisine. The name is particularly apt: Aside from referring to a unit of measure, La Vara was the name of a Brooklyn newspaper written in the Sephardic language Ladino, also known as Judaeo–Spanish. With its original tin ceiling and brick walls intact, the space is in fairly good shape, and if renovation goes especially smoothly, the new owners could be serving latkes by Hanukkah.

268 Clinton St., nr. Verandah Pl., Cobble Hill; no phone yet