While many Brooklyn businesses open up Manhattan outposts only after establishing flagship locations in their home borough, such as Brooklyn Industries, Brooklyn Taco's first brick-and-mortar store serves tacos out of the bustling Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Though he now lives in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, chef and co-founder Jesse Kramer grew up in a fairly affluent Jewish neighborhood in West Hartford, Connecticut: "The non-Mexican food capital of the world," he said. Kramer credits his co-founder, Brooklyn native Erica Molina, along with the borough's diverse food scene, with turning him on to Mexican food.
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"When I moved to Sunset Park, I had tacos for the first time—real ones—and they blew my mind," Kramer said. He had just finished culinary school, where his training had focused on classical French techniques. When he moved to Brooklyn, he began exploring local taquerias and bodegas to learn the craft of Mexican cooking.
Despite Kramer's perception that many residents feel the Brooklyn brand has been exploited, the borough's unique appeal won out when it came time for Kramer and Molina to name their business.
"Brooklyn has an edge that we wanted to hang on to," Kramer explained. "If you say 'Manhattan Taco,' it screams Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and Wall Street. If you say 'Brooklyn,'" he mused, "everyone gives you a different answer."