Is it fair to be suspicious of a poorly named, industrial-chic Cuban restaurant abutting the desolate Navy Yard, on the same block as one of the city’s scariest bars (don’t just take my word for it)? My initial concern was mediocre food but I later became more consumed with trying to interpret the vaguely sketchy shenanigans taking place around me.
The food was surprisingly un-bad, reasonably priced (most entrees were under $12) and the $8 mojitos were generous in size and potency. I felt tipsy after two, which is a rarity (I’m not a cheap date) and totally messed up the photos I’d taken.
It was difficult to not plow through the complimentary plate of squished and toasted garlic bread with three dips but I was pretending to be healthy and ordered a salad instead of something weighted down with rice and beans. A giant pile of lettuce covered with avocados, mango, grilled dark meat chicken, white cheese and fried onions is hardly austere, though I was unusually careful about only eating half (though I couldn’t bear to just leave half even though salads are pretty soggy and foul after a few hours. The thrifty gene in me still asked our sweet but spacey waitress to wrap up the remainders. Just the day before at Yemen Café, as frequently happens without warrant, James got all freaked out that our leftover louyabia and fateh we’d requested to go had been tossed in the trash. This has never happened in my life, though I shouldn’t have said that aloud on Thursday because Friday at Mojito I was to never see the rest of my salad again. Jinxed.) I also split an order of two empanadas, one chicken, one cheese, both more than edible.
Being in proximity to Pratt, projects and luxury lofts (Mojito is on the ground floor of the Chocolate Factory, which sounds vaguely dirty to me), the clientele is a total mixed bag. The tables were filled with a wonderful melting pot of African-American families, scruffy college kids and the mandatory white guy/Asian girl couple.
I noticed a tiny white guy in moccasin boots, who looked like a scrawny version of George on Grey’s Anatomy (I had to look that name up—that show is painful to watch) had been propping up the bar for most of our meal. He had a messy haired, white studded leather belt friend with him. At some point George left and came back in a bathrobe like he was the Howard Hughes of Wallabout (the revitalization-hyped neighborhood name that I just learned last week). Ok, and then I was like that’s cool that the two 300-pound black men who ordered take out, then ate out of round aluminum containers at the bar while staring down fellow diners were palling around with the artsy gay guys. Ah, sweet diversity. “Is that a housecoat?” was my favorite exclamation (it reminded me of a girl who used to call shorts short pants). At some point they all skulked into a back room, which I suspect leads into the condo complex.
In high school, whenever you’d see rockers (I attended an extremely hesher-heavy institution) hanging out with popular kids you knew something was up. Only drugs (and perhaps, consequently, sex) could bring the two worlds together. Clearly, Mojito is totally the place to be if you want to expand your social circle.
Mojito * 82 Washington Ave., Brooklyn, NY