Latin American

SUGARCANE raw bar grill

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Overview:

The Miami hit Sugarcane has arrived in NYC from the team that also brought you Sushi Samba. The restaurant takes it's home in the newly expanding Empire Store complex of Dumbo, Brooklyn. The massive space has bright colors and low lighting, with views of Manhattan’s skyline and the Brooklyn bridge. The menu is made up of globally inspired small plates coming from their kitchen which includes an open fire grill & raw bar.  Asian, Latin and American influences mix to create plates like bacon-wrapped dates, an array of crudos and ceviches, and more substantial dishes like chimichurri skirt steak and yakitori chicken. It's a fun place to bring a big group and share some interesting food. 

Information:

Address55 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Phone (718) 473-9555

Neighborhood: Dumbo

Price: $$$


 

Coppelia  

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Overview:

This 24hr Latin diner has been a late night and early morning NYC staple for years. The laid back, no frills dining room is long and offers tons of table and counter seating. In terms of food there are a ton of choices to cure most cravings. You'll find a huge menu of comfort food classics with a Latin flare (think burgers with pulled pork, mac n' cheese with chicharrons). Breakfast is served all day and you can choose from things like hash with beef short rib & chile de arbol, huevos rancheros and empanadas. Portions are large, ingredients & plating are thoughtful and the price is very reasonable. Full bar is available.

Information:

Address: 207 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011

Phone (212) 858-5001

Neighborhood: Chelsea

Price: $$


 

Lalito


Information:

Address: 104 Bayard St., New York, NY 10013.

Phone:  (646) 998-3406

Neighborhood: Chinatown  

Website : http://lalitonyc.com/

Price: $$

Attire: Casual

Good for: breakfast all day, cheap lunch (all dishes under $15), bar scene

Overview 

This was a culinary experience where I walked away thinking, "I don't know what the fuck I just ate, but I loved it." The concept comes from the brain of former El Rey chef Gerardo Gonzalez. The Chinatown restaurant is decorated in a minimalistic retro fashion. The food is truly out of the ordinary, amongst a landscape of restaurants that all open with the same menu. There are Mexican, Mediterranean, and Latin influences contributing to complex flavors in casually plated food with lots of vegetable-heavy options. Confusing flavor combinations of roasted yam & yogurt, cumin & bacon, or potatoes & pickled pineapple have been finessed into dishes that will leave you pensive for days. I respect any place that has a "celery salad" consisting of a mountain of bacon and 3 pieces of celery. Hats off to Gonzales for shakin' shit up. 


 

Tavo

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Smash Tower - Three levels avocado wasabi smash topped with tuna tartare, bang bang duck and adobo pork

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Chorizo Shumai -  Bamboo steamed chorizo/ goat cheese dumplings, trio of sauces

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Lobster Avocado Toast - Multigrain toast, avocado. poached lobster,pistachio pesto, alfalfa sprouts, pomegranate

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Peking Duck Chilaquiles - Baked tortilla casserole, Peking shredded duck, green & red salsas,, creme fraiche, poached eggs

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TAVO Burger - Grilled Wagyu beef, brioche bun, pan-seared foie gras, avocado, sharp cheddar, portobello mushroom, bacon, truffle parmesan fries

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Creamy Arroz Morro - Mofongo cakes, creamy arroz morro, poached eggs, truffle oil

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Address: 615 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

Phone(917) 675-6454

http://tavonyc.com/

Oficina Latina

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Guacamole & Chips

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Al horno Organic baked eggs, crushed tomatoes, chorizo, frijoles gigante, jalapeno

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Shrimp Tacos - Dry smoked chipotle, avocado, green onions

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Arepas de carne sundried tomatoes, braised short ribs, red onions

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Clasica Paella - Shellfish, chorizo, chicken, green peas

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Elote A La Parilla Grilled corn

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Address: 24 Prince St, New York, NY 10012

Phone(646) 381-2555

http://www.oficinalatinanyc.com/

Llama Inn

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Ceviche

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Charred Kale - huacatay, anchovies, bread crumbs

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Avocado Toast - maitaki mushroom, roasted jalapeno, arugula

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Frittata - roasted red pepper, potato, leeks, olives, aji amarillo

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Beef Tenderloin Stir – Fry - fried egg, banana, french fries, rocoto crema

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Omelette – chinese sausage, rice, chiles

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Fried Chicken Thigh - picarones, chancaca honey, pickled chilis, fermented hot sauce

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Tamal - crispy pork shoulder, fried egg, sweet potato, salsa criolla, rocoto

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Huacho Sausage Sandwich - scrambled egg, fontina, sweet potato, rocoto crema

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Chicken Sandwich w/ plantains

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Short rib sandwich w/ sweet potatoes

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Lime Pie - graham cracker crust, burnt meringue

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Address: 50 Withers St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Phone(718) 387-3434

http://www.llamainnnyc.com/

Fifty

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     Picture: Gothamist          

Picture: Gothamist  

 

I’ll just say it. I walked into Fifty and thought this place is going to be way too stuffy for my taste. I used to go to this location when it was Commerce with my parents and it still looked vaguely similar. And I will also say that every single dish, all of them without fail, knocked me on my sweet little ass. It was that good.

Fifty was opened recently by Alex Kingman, a 27 year old who once lived in the building when it housed another restaurant. The décor itself could be a canvas for any type semi-high end food. The dining room is elegant and sleek without much decoration . There is a large marble bar running the length of half the space. As we sat, young couples flooded the restaurant which I had assumed might attract a much older crowd.

chef Luis Jaramillo’s menu is new American fare and divided into 4 main components: Bites, Vegetables, Ocean, and Land. Each dish was beautifully composed and built with thoughtful combinations of ingredients. Crudo tends to bore me but their version with steelhead trout, ponzu, seaweed and tapioca chips was an umami packed delight. Their burrata with peached was the perfect sweet/salty/fatty bite. Then I walked into one of my favorite dishes in recent memory, shrimp & calamari black rice with sofrito, mizuna, lemon aioli. Every component of the dish (which is very difficult to execute) was beyond perfect. I would have happily stabbed my dining companions in their hand with my fork for trying to share it with me. I loved it, go there, you can still bring your parents to pay the check. Here’s what we had:

 Smoked Trout Deviled Egg - trout roe / crispy skin

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Mini Lobster Rolls - house made brioche / celery / herbed aioli

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Fluke Cebiche - uni / leche de tigre / red onion / cilantro

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Steelhead Trout - ponzu / seaweed / tapioca chips

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Beef Tartare - horse radish / farro / shallots / slow poached egg

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Mediterranean Octopus - cilantro / potato / peppers and olive caponatta

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Charred Broccoli- calabrian peppers / parmesan crisp / anchovy

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House Made Burrata - roasted peaches / basil / lambrusco vinaigrette

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Shrimp & Calamari Black Rice – sofrito / mizuna / lemon aioli

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Pan Roasted Scallops - asparagus / grainy mustard vinaigrette / citrus segments

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Grilled Hanger Steak - fingerling / chimichurri / shishito peppers / garlic confit aioli

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Address: 50 Commerce St, New York, NY 10014

Phone: (212) 524-4104

www.fiftyrestaurantnyc.com/

Esperanto

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I've been frequenting Esperanto for years and it always brings a smile to my face. This East Village Latin restaurant is always full of vibrabce and energy. It is brightly colored with rich yellow, green and red paint. No matter the time of day, they have lively music as the soundtrack to your meal. 

The menu has ample selection of Latin fusion dishes, taking influence from northeastern Brazil.  The empanadas are hot and flakey, the ceviche is cold and perfectly acidic. Their version of Moqueca (Braxilian stew) is rich and I still dream of it. For brunch, try the tostones or fried yucca which are both slathered with garlic and not at all greasy. Much of the menu is designed to share. Wash it down with any number of fresh fruit cocktails pressed daily. If you need a pick-me-up, this is your spot. Here's what we had:

Tostones with black bean dip

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Fried yucca & guacamole

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Ovos Rancheros - Fried egg on top of a crispy corn tortilla, fresh pico de gallo & black beans

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Eggs Benedict - Poached eggs on a toasted English muffin served with Brazilian ham & Esperanto's signature hollandaise sauce

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Esperanto Burger - Lettuce, tomato, onion, cheddar, bacon, avocado, egg & french fries

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Address: 145 Avenue C, New York, NY 10009

Phone(212) 505-6559

www.esperantony.com/

El Rey Coffee Bar & Luncheonette

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     Photo: eater.com

Photo: eater.com

Being that I work for myself, it is safe to say that I have spent many moons working in coffee shops. All too often I find them painfully dimly lit and devout of any culinary sustenance. You can imagine my joy when I found the antithesis of this at El Rey Coffee Bar & Luncheonette

For a shoebox sized shop, the space feels open and airy. Wall-to-wall windows lining the front provide tons of natural sunlight. The design is clean, hip, and minimalistic. By day El Rey is a barista-manned coffee bar but in the evening the lights dim and it takes on the feeling of a fully fledged cafe. 

You can certain get a decent beverage at El Rey ranging from Parlor coffee, to beer & wine. However what makes this place special is the wildly creative, frequently changing food menu. They have a surprisingly large number of sweet and savory offerings and said offerings are packed with nuts, grains and vegetables. I'm talking chia seed pudding heaped with pomegranate seeds and coconut flakes. They easily have the best kale salad in New York and that's coming from someone who hates kale (gasp, I know I'm a monster). Have you ever seen avocado gazpacho, squid poké, or ceviche at a coffee bar? Me either. It easy to see why they have received countless accolades from press like NY Times, Food & Wine, and Bon Appetite. Here's what we had:

KALE SALAD - almond vinaigrette

 

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ARUGULA SALAD- grapefruit, lemon, fennel, queso cotija

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CEVICHE - avocado, cilantro, lime, coconut milk, pepita

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POACHED EGGS - hominy, avocado, plantain, chimichurri

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Flatbread

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CORN FRITTERS - milk mayo, chili

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     Photo: elreynyc.com

Photo: elreynyc.com

Address: 100 Stanton St, New York, NY 10002

Phone(212) 260-3950

www.elreynyc.com/

Black Flamingo

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When I told people I was going to Black Flamingo the resounding response was “I didn’t know they served food.” Definitely not what you look to hear when en route to a restaurant. Granted, the place is known more for being a bar/nightclub. But if no one even knows you have food, what can one really expect for a meal there? What I found blew me away.

The menu at Black Flamingo is latin inspired vegan fare. Normally I stay away from restaurants that put me in a corner and tell me I can’t have something in particular. However the overall experience was exceptional. We were greeted by staff that was endlessly kind and excited about the restaurant. They guided us through the dishes wanting us to love everything. The food that poured out of the kitchen was incredibly innovative, beautifully presented, and assembled with tremendous thought. Along the way they kept us lubricated with heavily laced tequila cocktails (yay!).

I am baffled that no one seemed to know BF served food. So many times I go out to eat and think “that was fine, I didn’t mind it, food was good, I wouldn’t rush to go back.” I think this 10 times per week. But as I ate through the vegan menu each dish excited me more than the last. Their vegan ceviche was fresh and acidic, a beauty to behold, and the perfect firm texture. The jack fruit “crab cakes” had my mouth completely confused over whether I was eating crab or not. The texture is interchangeable. The watermelon and feta salad was the prefect refreshing bite and paired effortlessly with the tequila.

Now, the tacos. There are 7 different variations, each one more interesting than the last. Each with pops of color, acid, crunch and fat. You can choose from a huge variety of hearts of palm, mushrooms, tofu, mofongo and jackfruit. They look like little works of art. The rest of the small plates and tacos are sophisticated massively flavorful.This was the kind of food I am excited to write about and eager to return for. Here’s what we had:  

HOUSE-MADE CHIPS, GUACAMOLE, AND PICO DE GALLO

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ROYAL CEVICHE royal trumpet mushroom, cucumber, mango, jicama, baby yams marinated in blood orange habanero vinaigrette w/ plantain chips 

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WATERMELON AND HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD  local grape heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, feta*, jicama, and baby arugula in citrus mint vinaigrette  

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JACKFRUIT "CRAB CAKES" - chipolte aioli, mango raita, savoy cabbage chipolte aioli, mango raita, savoy cabbage

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FLAMINGO TACOS

THE AL PASTOR                      
ancho chile marinated jackfruit grilled with smoked mozzarella*, refried
black beans, seared pineapple, avocado, pico verde 

THE SAVORY SHROOM
crispy herb mushroom croquette, brazilian collard, fried leek,
truffle cashew crema, pecorino, almond parmesan

THE PALMS
grilled hearts of palm, guacamole, esquites, chipotle aioli, pickled watermelon radish,
fresh cilantro, micro arugula 

THE BIBIMBAP Gojujang popcorn tofu, pickled watermelon radish, carrot, daikon, micro arugula,
toasted black sesame seed, fried quail egg, scallion

THE JERK seared mofongo, roasted fingerling sweet potato, refried black beans, jerk
aioli, mango raita, crispy collard greens

THE JAM crispy potato latke, gruyere, guava jam, fried garlic, chive-dill crema,
red onion escabeche, cotija, scallion

THE “FISH” TACO beer battered king oyster mushroom, avocado salsa, lime cabbage slaw,
vegan crema, radish

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WILD MUSHROOM QUESADILLA grilled oyster mushroom, shiitake, cremini, gruyere, truffle cashew crema, cotija served with salsa verde and sour cream, pickled jalapeno, sour cream, cashew cheese, vegan sour cream, almond parmesan

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