From salsa to guacamole, all the way to the decadent dessert flan: Where to find the best Latin-American food in the five boroughs. By Linda Grant.
Caracas Arepa Bar
93 ½ E. 7th Street
New York. NY 10009
Arepas, for a lack of better description, is the Wonder Bread of Venezuela – their daily bread, if you will. What is an arepa? It’s a small, round, gluten -free, wheat-free corn patty, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside stuffed with various fillings. Try the traditional Arepa de Pabellion made of beef, black beans, salty white cheese and sweet plantains or the Arepa de Pollo filled with chicken, caramelized onions and cheddar cheese. We also want to highlight that Caracas Arepa Brooklyn, with its own Roneria Caracas, a bar that specializes in serving over 30 sipping rums.
316 W. 49th Street
New York, NY 10019
A favorite among meat lovers, Churrascaria (choo-rah-scah-REE-ah) Plataforma is a Brazilian restaurant that serves mostly grilled meat including Rodizio, a way of serving different cuts of meat that originated in the early 1800’s. The restaurant serves a multitude of different cuts of meat all in succession without a break until you call “enough”. Meat is not the only thing on the menu though. There is wide variety of side dishes including fried polenta, fried plantains, salad, rice, potatoes and addictive cheese bread pao de quieijo – enough to keep the vegetarians and non-meat lovers happy. Be forewarned, the menu is prix fixe only; $37.95 for lunch and $58.95 for dinner. This is not an everyday outing but it needs to be experienced when you are in a super hungry mood.
30 Cornelia Street
New York, NY 10014
This tiny neighborhood restaurant offers a slice of Havana right here in New York City with a selection of truly authentic Cuban dishes. Owner/Chef Lidia Sharpe uses organic ingredients in the house specialties which include traditional favorites such as Ceviche Jumbo Shrimp, Cuban Ropa Viejo (shredded skirt steak) and Arroz Con Pollo. The adults in your party should not forget to try the Sangria, a perfect blend of wine and fruit, to accompany the meal. Little Havana offers real “mom and pop” style home cooking, offering up a warm and inviting atmosphere after a long and hectic day.
Café Buenos Aires
23 Wall Street
Huntington, NY 11743
If you are looking to find your inner Argentine soul, then Café Buenos Aires located in Huntington Long Island is the place. They serve a traditional Argentine BBQ and Spanish tapas menu that includes a delightful beef, chicken, spinach and corn empanada as well as a spicy chorizo. Of course, a trip to an Argentine restaurant would not be complete without live tango dancing (although you might embarrass your kids). The restaurant offers a $19.99 prix fixe brunch, which is a bargain. If you go on the weekends, definitely make a reservation, as it does get crowded.
40 E. Gibbsboro Rd.
(White Horse Pike)
Lindenwold, NJ 08021
Don’t be fooled by the pink exterior – La Esperanza serves up truly delicious homemade Mexican fare. Start with a traditional appetizer like guacamole, which is made-to-order at your table. House specials include Mole Pablano and Chiles Rellenos de Queso amongst the multitudes of delightful dishes. Adults in your party should be sure to treat themselves to a delicious Margarita (salt, please). Please note that the menu is written in Spanglish, because English is the owner’s second language. How quaint!
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