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Mexican Bar and Backyard Taco Truck Opens in Bed-Stuy

By Camille Bautista | April 3, 2015 12:00pm | Updated on April 6, 2015 8:59am

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A new taco truck has found a permanent home in Bed-Stuy.

Chilo’s, a Mexican bar and restaurant, opened on Franklin Avenue and Clifton Place this week, serving up drinks inside and tacos out back.

Co-owners Lev Gewirtzman and Jacques Belanger, who also head Crown Heights eatery Mayfield, said they wanted to create a low-key neighborhood hangout with some Mexican flair.

“Who doesn’t love tacos?” Gewirtzman said. “I’m kind of a taco truck addict and we figured this would be the kind of space that would be perfect for that.”

Tacos range from $2.50 to $4 a piece, with varieties including chorizo, carnitas, mole and shrimp. The owners said they're looking to expand to tostadas, tortas and ceviches later on.

All cooking is done from the truck, which sits in 323 Franklin’s spacious backyard, and customers can drink and dine at the outdoor picnic tables.

The restaurant’s bar offers beers, $10 cocktails and $8 frozen margaritas, and features a frozen rum punch with pineapple juice, sour orange juice and a brown sugar chipotle simple syrup.

On the inside, Chilo’s décor is meant to embody a Mexican dive bar, according to co-owner and designer Matthew Maddy.

Neon sugar skulls adorn the black tiled walls, along with an eclectic mix of trinkets that include porcelain cats and busts of Theodore Roosevelt. 

The restaurant’s bathroom serves as a makeshift planetarium with an oscillating solar system projected on the walls.  

“We wanted to have a lot of fun and not take ourselves too seriously at all,” Maddy said. “What I like about old bars is that they kind of just take on a life of their own and collect an hilarious mélange of stuff.”

“This is a place to have a beer, a shot and some tacos, and we wanted to set the tone for hilarity and have people bring in their own knickknacks or postcards to leave.”

To further set the tone, Maddy and fellow designer and co-owner Nico Arze enlisted the help of Chilean artist Basco Vazko to paint colorful murals on the restaurant’s exterior and interior.

The new eatery is named after a dishwasher Gewirtzman and Belanger used to worked with, they said, describing him as a "real character."

Chilo’s bar is open on weekdays from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., and from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. on weekends. The taco truck will operate from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weeknights, and from 4 p.m. til 2 a.m. on weekends.