When Heather Heuser and chef Jason Marcus opened Traif on Williamsburgs South Side in 2010, they irreverently used the notion of Jewish forbidden foods like pork and shellfish as a springboard for an eclectic small-plates menu. A trip to Mexico City partly inspired their sophomore project: not a stereotypical cantina, but a version of Traif as it might have been had Marcus been Mexican-born. At Xixa (pronounced shiksa, a reference to Heuser being Marcuss Gentile girlfriend), he applies south-of-the-border ingredients and techniques to his own cooking style, honed though years of world travel. This is no taco joint, however: Think more along the lines of foie gras al pastor (pictured) and red-curry tom-yum esquites. What to drink with this fanciful fusion? Heuser has renounced the margarita-mill cliché, choosing to focus instead on wine, supplemented by agave spirits and beer.
Xixa, 241 S. 4th St., nr. Havemeyer St., Williamsburg; 718-388-8860.
*This article originally appeared in the December 10, 2012 issue of New York Magazine.