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Best Mouthfuls: El Barrio and Washington Heights


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#1 Wilfrid1

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 05:08 PM

If we get enough material on the two areas, I will do separate summaries. But I am thinking it's too sparse a subject for two threads.

The Barrio from north side of 106th and East of Park Avenue, until you hit the water. Washington Heights is everything north side of 155th up. I think the Dominican restaurant Margo just falls south of the boundary into Harlem, but I'll check.
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#2 fantasty

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 07:45 PM

In Washington Heights, at the corner of 166 and St. Nicholas, I used to eat a lot of arroz con pollo from the white truck that would park there.

The burger at Coogan's - 169th and Broadway, I think - was decent.
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#3 Wilfrid1

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 08:18 PM

Tricky, isn't it? There's also a truck up there which serves all kinds of cooked offal: intestines, tongue, liver, with yuca and fried plantains, but I have no recollection where it is. :blush:
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#4 Pingarina

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 10:24 PM

Okay, my turn. Patsy's, of course, but only after a few drinks. The atmosphere, such as it is, is dank, and best enjoyed with lot's of friends and rose-tinted glasses. "House salad" is very good, fresh small greens, fresh vinagrette. Good red sauce standards. Pizza's okay, but somehow turns cold and hard on the way from the kitchen. Better off getting a slice next door - best American pizza, I think.

La Torpezienne Bakery, on a desolate strip on 1st Ave. near 110th. The little gem of our neighborhood. Just about everything is lovely here - light, crusty baguettes, brioches, croissants, petit fours and other viennoiserie; surprisingly good fruit tarts made with non-industrial creams and glazes. They've added a number of lunch-y things like sandwiches and soups that are also honestly made. It's nice to go in for a coffee and tartine on a sunny morning and listen to the chatter of the Senegalese and Ivoirienne livery drivers.

There's a good Salvadoran place on the north side of 109th, just east of 1st. I'll post the name later when I remember. Only place in New York where I've had fresh-made pupusas. Usually they're frozen.

Orbit on the corner of 116th/1st. In the space that was Andy's Colonial. Good for drinks and no-cover music, but the food has gone to the dogs.

The bar at Rao's.

Sandy's, corner of 2nd/116th for divine lechon asado and roast chicken.

Ricardo Steak House, 2nd Ave. between 110th and 111th. Surprisingly good food, very cheap steak, nice little bar, backyard, palms, fans. Very downtown-ish, A good-looking crowd, but very friendly.

Taquerias: Taco Mix on 116th between 2nd/3rd, south side. Very good, real stuff. All the requisite offal - head, ears, intestines, brains. Tacos suaderos are delicious. Stews and soups as well. Hard to spend more than $10 for two, and that would really be loading it on.
La Taquicardia, 116th between 2nd/3rd, north side, can be very good, but depends on who is cooking. Judging by the frequent hastily-written signs advertising the need for cooks in front windows on this block, the staff doesn't stay for long.
Most of the Mexican markets in El Barrio have tiny grills in the rear of the store where they make tacos/tortas/huaraches, etc.
Taqueria El Paso, corner of Lex/104th. Been going here since it opened about five years ago. It's expanded (including a branch on 97th/Park), stretched its hours/menu to accomodate the tastes of gringos, but still remains one of the best. Stays open later than most.
Santa Clarita, corner of Lex/103rd. Along the same lines as El Paso, but in the warmer months they set up a little outdoor stand on the 103rd side, with all kinds of body part tacos and tortas. Very good.

There are about six women selling home made tamales on the north and south side of 116th between 3rd/Lex. Fewer in the winter. All are quite delicious, and a fabulous snack/meal at $1 each. There is one tamale maker that I always seek out, who makes a Oaxacan-style tamal in banana leaves, and they are simply superb. Just look at what's coming out of the coolers and pots to spot her. Otherwise, I always go where most of the people are gathering. There's also a little red wooden cart that sells, among other antojitos, a snack of hot fried bread (or masa? it's been a while) wrapped taco style around meat/salsa fillings. In the warmer months, esp. on weekend days, you canbuy fresh elote on the street (corn cob-on-a-stick) with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, powdered chili. And aguas frescas like melon and horchata.

Really, really good taco cart on the corner of 3rd and 105th in the warmer months.

I'm sure I'll come up with more.

-Lisa
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#5 Wilfrid1

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 10:47 PM

That's the stuff - thanks. I know this has come up before, but can you confirm that it's possible to walk in and get a drink at the bar at Rao's?

I guess The Flash Inn, which omni described recently, is in this area too.
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#6 Pingarina

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 11:08 PM

Yes, Rao's bar, hosted by Nicky the Vest, is open to mortals during the regular hours of the restaurant, supper monday through friday. Great people-watching and listening. There really are guys named "Jimmy the Nose" and "Frankie Lunches."

Don't know much about Flash Inn. Quite a bit north of us, near 155th street.
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#7 Pingarina

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 11:33 PM

Just read Omnivorette's entries on Flash Inn. Looks like it could be very cool. We're heavy into going to "lost" New York joints these days, so I'm sure we'll make the trip soon. Definitely a car service trip.
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#8 R Washburn

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Posted 03 March 2005 - 03:27 PM

The burger at Coogan's - 169th and Broadway, I think - was decent.


I wouldn't recommend any food item from Coogan's. If we are willing to consider Inwood in this thread, then I would suggest having a burger at "The Piper's Kilt" on 207th and Broadway.


Bohio (170th and Broadway?) is the best Latin restaurant i have been to in the Heights. Asimov did a $25 and under piece on it a while back.

El Malecon (175th and Broadway) is my favorite place for rotisserie chicken.

#9 porkwah

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 03:08 AM

i was just up in washington heights about a week ago on a sunday. i'd really like to spend more time exploring the food up there. i had only room for one meal, and now i'm trying to figure out the name of the place i got a quite good cuban sandwich from (with real pernil in it) around st nicholas and 188th streets (east side of street). it was good, but probably not worth a trip just for itself, i'd say.

some notable stuff: there were street vendors with seafood soup all over the place but i didn't get any. also there were a couple street vendors with homemade desserts like i'd seen in mexico (sweets made from some kind of gelled corn flour) but again i didn't buy any.

one interesting thing: i walked past a hole in the wall pizzarea that SMELLED TERRIFIC and had a long line of people out of it. if it is good, it is an absolute anomaly -- i really wouldn't expect good pizza up there. the name of the place is Rap Pizza and it's on st. nicholas (east side of street) near 186th -- you can google them for an address.

man, i need a headache


#10 Pingarina

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 01:21 PM

Had a Oaxacan-style tamal (banana leaf) last friday, $1.50 from the woman in the center of the block on 116th between 3rd/Lex. Heaven.
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#11 Wilfrid1

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 03:36 PM

There is a lot of street food in the neighborhood, and you really have to take your chances. One day we ended up sampling three different taco vendors, and the quality ranged from really good to dump-in-nearest-trashcan (which is why we ended up trying three, not two).
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#12 R Washburn

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 03:44 PM

one interesting thing: i walked past a hole in the wall pizzarea that SMELLED TERRIFIC and had a long line of people out of it. if it is good, it is an absolute anomaly -- i really wouldn't expect good pizza up there. the name of the place is Rap Pizza and it's on st. nicholas (east side of street) near 186th -- you can google them for an address.

Pizza is very popular up here, and about average in quality. i will have to investigate this "Rap" pizzeria and see if it is noteworthy.

#13 Wilfrid1

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 04:48 PM

This list does not include destination (reservation-needed) restaurants. Otherwise, additions and especially corrections welcome.

Sitting down mouthfuls

Best Latino: Bohio. El Malecon for rotisserie chicken. Best Italian: Patsy's for house salad and red sauce standards. Best Salvadorean: [Calling Pingarina -NAME?] (fresh pupusas). Sandy's for lechon asado and roast chicken. Best burger: The Piper's Kilt in Inwood.

Sweet mouthfuls

La Torpezienne Bakery, for croissants, petit fours and other viennoiserie, fruit tarts, and baguettes and sandwiches too.

Standing up mouthfuls

Best slice: Patsy's. Best tacos: Tacqueria El Paso; Taco Mix - look out for offal options; Santa Clarita (stall outside in summer months); La Taquicardia is less consistent. A good taco stand on the corner of 3rd and 105th in the warmer months. Home made tamales and many other options from the stalls on the north and south side of 116th between 3rd/Lex, especially in the summer; look out for one offering Oaxacan-style tamal in banana leaves.

Thirsty mouthfuls

Orbit for drinks and no-cover music. The bar at Rao's (people watching).

Shopping mouthfuls

Any suggestions?

Anything else?

Fact is, we like a lot of food from trucks and stalls in these neighborhoods, but specificying name and location isn't easy.
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If the author could go around the place hitting random readers with a rubber hammer, the Pink Pig would still be worth a visit.

#14 omnivorette

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 07:37 PM

Just had tacos and huaraches at Taco Mix on 116th, which is a regular stop for me when we take the train from CT (which we did this weekend because of the traffic situation) - we get out on 125th St and walk home). Excellent all around. No offal today, but we had cecina and bistec and al pastor and pollo. Actually I've never seen offal there...but I'm on the lookout for it since this thread...

Must try Taquecardia across the street too, one of these days.

There's an excellent Mexican market on just a few doors from Taco Mix, toward 2nd Ave., the name of which escapes me right now.
"It seems a positively Quixotic quest to defend food from being used as any kind of social signifier, as if it could avoid the fate of each other component of our everyday lives." -Wilfrid

#15 Rose

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 10:03 PM

Must try Taquecardia across the street too, one of these days.

Please do not try Taquecardia, it could be a strain on your heart. :)
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