For connoisseurs of dive-bar food, the opening of the season has got to be El Cortez, a bi-level Bushwick joint from Chris Young and Stephen Tanner, the team behind the Commodore in Williamsburg. Tanner, whom you may remember as the co-founder of the original Pies-N-Thighs (or maybe you know him as the bassist in the sludge-metal band Harvey Milk), has yet to finalize his barbecue-meets-Mexican menu, because “what I’ve found is if you start planning too much, you start going ape-shit and having these anxiety dreams.” (Here’s what he’s got so far: smoked meat served “white-boy style” with Martin’s potato rolls and various barbecue sauces, or “Mexican” with flour tortillas and salsas.)
But you can pretty much count on a cheeseburger, and maybe some fried chicken, provided Young agrees to design buckets with Tanner’s face emblazoned on them. (That’s the only way Tanner will acquiesce to cooking white meat, which he loathes.) On the other hand, “I’m literally going to wait till the day before it opens before I make a decision, so maybe it will be hot dogs and sushi and crab Rangoon.”
17 Ingraham St., nr. Bogart St., Bushwick; no phone yet; October
*This article appears in the August 25, 2014 issue of New York Magazine.