Bringing the taste of Puebla to Brooklyn
With New York slowly opening back up for the restaurant business, it is no surprise that new restaurants are starting to pop up in all five boroughs. And Flatbush’s latest addition, Tiny’s Cantina, brings an exciting twist on Mexican food that people have grown to love.
Executive Chef Cenobio Canalizo hails from Puebla and has created a menu that is heavily inspired by a number of classic Poblano staples. Tiny’s menu features a number of dishes ranging from a traditional Queso Fundido all the way to a reimagined version of the now-defunct Taco Bell Mexican Pizza. The Tlayuda. On top of the assortment of mouth-watering dishes to select from, Tiny’s Cantina features a number of tasty cocktails to sip on as well as over 75 bottles of craft mezcal and tequila to select from.
As soon as you enter Tiny’s Cantina, you are greeted by warm smiles and an inviting energy. The interior of Tiny’s Cantina feels homey, reminiscent of that ‘go-to bar you would go to three times a week where all the servers know your name and your order.’ But as you look around, you start to notice the little details that make Tiny’s Cantina unique and memorable. On the wall near the entrance, you can’t help but notice neon signs saying “Tequila” and “Mezcal,” which to me always means you are about to have a good time. And when you look over at the bar, you get a chance to see all the types of tequila and mezcal bottles that Tiny’s Cantina offers its guests.
Tiny’s Cantina has a top-notch drink menu that spares no expense. At the very top of the drink menu are five unique margarita cocktails, which is definitely a go-to whenever I am at a Mexican restaurant. For the margaritas on the menu, a clear standout was the Cactus Pear margarita which was made with silver tequila, triple sec, pear puree, agave, and lime. This margarita is definitely for the type of person who likes a fruit-forward drink. As soon as you take the first sip, there is a burst of sweetness from the pear puree that is eventually mellowed out by the brightness and crispness from the lime and agave. Another margarita we decided to try was the Tiny’s Margarita, made with a choice of either tequila or mezcal, Cointreau, lime, and tajin. With my drink, I decided to make this margarita with mezcal because I enjoy the smokiness of mezcal a lot. And this margarita may sound like a standard margarita but actually has a lot more flavor than the typical one. There was the initial smokiness of the mezcal that came through but then paired with the sweetness of the Cointreau adds a nice and refreshing touch whereas traditional margaritas end up being a bit more on the tart and bitter end. And what takes this drink over the edge is that the subtle sweetness pairs so well with the spicy tajin rim that comes with it.
But if you aren’t that into margaritas, Tiny’s Cantina also features classic cocktails such as negronis and old fashioneds as well as some intriguing featured cocktails. We tried the Teqolada cocktail which was made with reposado tequila, coconut rum, pineapple, lime, coco lopez, and vanilla. This drink initially seems like it will throw a lot of flavors at you at once just from the number of ingredients alone. However, this drink is pretty much a pina colada drink. As soon as you try this drink, you immediately get a burst of pineapple and coconut flavor that immediately takes you to sitting on a beach in Mexico. There is a bit of creaminess to this drink from the coco perez but still goes down smooth and isn’t overwhelmingly thick where it feels like a struggle to drink. Another great cocktail we got to try was the Albaricoque Fresco which was made with Gin, apricot, lemon, and bitters. When we first got this drink, our eyes immediately focused in on the frothiness at the top of the glass. And taking the first sip, we were met with the foam at the top which lent a nice lightness to the drink and made it more vibrant, especially since the foam has a lingering fruity taste to it, likely from the apricot in the drink. There was also a nice balance of sweetness and bitterness to this drink, which was nice to have because those flavor profiles tend to battle more than they do harmonize.
And if that wasn’t enough, you could also try your hand at tasting any of their mezcals and tequilas as a shot (or sip it like me because shots always burn my throat).
But Tiny’s Cantina isn’t only about their drinks. We got the chance to try a few of their signature dishes such as the Queso Fundido, the Tlayuda, the Birria de Res, and the Cemita Poblana. We started with the Queso Fundido because we love queso so much, almost to the point where it becomes unhealthy. Tiny’s Queso Fundido was a love letter to cheesy comfort foods. This queso is more like a fondue with how creamy the melted cheese is. And instead of pairing it with tortilla chips, they decided to pair it with soft corn tortillas. It was actually surprising how well the soft corn tortillas paired with queso and acted as a vessel for it. And adding in the chorizo was a stroke of genius especially since the chorizo brought a smoky and spicy element to the dish so it didn’t feel overwhelmingly rich from just the cheese alone. This dish alone is the definition of true comfort food and I would order this alone on any day given the opportunity. Whether you are at Tiny’s alone or with a group of friends, you must try this Queso Fundido.
The next dish we got to sample was the famous Tlayuda. After Taco Bell removed their classic Mexican Pizza from the menu, there was a hole in many people’s hearts, including my own. Tiny’s Cantina practically heard all of our hearts weep and decided to bring their own take on the Mexican Pizza to their menu. This dish has a base of a fried tortilla and is topped with quesillo, black bean puree, chorizo, radishes, pickled onions, crema, micro cilantro, and salsa roja. To start, the fried tortilla at the bottom was perfectly crispy and flaky without going off the edge into being burnt. The bean puree was smooth and creamy and was a great glue for the toppings on the pizza. The chorizo offers a nice savoriness to the pizza and paired well with the radishes and the pickled onions that gave great acidity and brightness to the dish. The mellow crema was met beautifully with the spiciness of the salsa roja. The dish overall was balanced in its entirety. There was a great balance of texture going on and the dish itself was savory and stimulated all aspects of our palette. There was a lot to love about this dish and brought back feelings of eating Taco Bell as a kid, with the added bonus of now I am an adult and can drink while eating this.
After we tried the Tlayuda, we got to taste the Birria de Res which was made with pulled beef shank, onions, and cilantro and paired with a delicious bone marrow broth. When we first looked at the menu and saw Birria was on it, we were over the moon. If you are on any sort of social media, you have probably seen a video or a TikTok of someone making or eating Birria. It is basically making a delicious and savory bone broth and seeping corn tortillas into that broth which is later fried to make a crisp shell. The meat used in the broth is then added into the tortilla shell and topped with whatever vegetables you want. What made these Birria videos chart was how sexy they looked as you dipped the shell into the bone broth and took that first bite. And better believe we dipped and double-dipped our birria into the broth as many times as we could. The pulled beef shank on its own was juicy and tender and the addition of onions and cilantro gave a well-balanced acidity and brightness to the meat. However, it isn’t until you dip the birria into the broth that you get the full effect. Once dipped, the birria transforms into an ultimate savory and juicy dish. The once crunchy shell absorbs all the savory flavor from the bone marrow broth and you are met with a burst of hearty and savory flavors. And because the birria was soaked in the broth, it acts as the perfect bridge between the filling inside and the broth you are dipping it in. We cannot rave enough about this dish. This is one of the few food “trends” that lives up to the hype and if you visit Tiny’s Cantina, you HAVE to order the Birria de Res.
The last dish we tried was the Cemita Poblana which is breaded chicken milanesa on a sesame seed roll paired with avocado slices, smoked chipotle, and stringy quesillo. When this dish reached our table, we couldn’t help but notice how visually appealing this dish was. The huge sandwich was towered with the bright green avocado slices and quesillo which all sat on top of the breaded chicken. The visual of this sandwich was nothing short of an art piece that could be found in the Louvre or MOMA. The chicken itself had a bit of smokiness to it, almost reminiscent of barbecue food. That being said, the chicken was incredibly moist and packed with so much flavor. The quesillo then paired well with the chicken by adding a nice and subtle saltiness to it. But what put this sandwich over the top was how the creamy and fatty avocado mellowed out a lot of the intense flavors of the chicken which allowed us to keep digging in and not get tired or overwhelmed by all that flavor. But be warned, this dish is huge so it’s definitely something you would want to share with friends, family, or a potential date *wink wink.*
And what is a meal without dessert. We ate a lot of food as you can tell, but here we are professionals and know that we need to save room for dessert. One dessert we wanted to feature was the Tres Leches cake. This cake was the perfect way to end this dinner. The cake was so moist and the tres leches on top added the perfect creaminess to it. What made this even better is how the entire cake was served in a pool of milk. And over time the cake started to absorb the milk and made it even more moist and burst with so much sweet flavor. Paired with the cake itself was an assortment of blueberries and raspberries which both gave an additional sweetness but also a bit of tartness to the dish. The entirety of the dish wasn’t as heavy as you might expect so it is definitely easy to finish and doesn’t leave you feeling gross or bloated at the end.
Overall, Tiny’s Cantina is a true gem and a much-appreciated addition to the New York dining scene. From the array of delicious cocktails and drinks they offer to the delicious food they serve, it isn’t a far stretch to say that Tiny’s Cantina will be a Brooklyn favorite for many to enjoy.