Dominican Sancocho (IMPORTANT!)
- Jim Leff
I've just been asked by a reporter to suggest (for attribution in the article) some places in the 5 boros for Dominican sancocho. I'm not looking for NEW suggestions (I'd rather not personally recommend places I haven't tried!), but please pipe up if you believe that any of the following are downhill, closed, etc! Many thanks...
Cafe Con Leche 424 amsterdam between 80 and 81
Raphael's 40 W 18 (hmmm...it's good dominican, not sure if they have sancocho...or even if they're still open)
el papacito 370 52 st 8/9 265-2225 (heard maybe downhill?)
La Tacita d'Oro,Broadway near 100th St,
Esperanto (9th & Ave C)
El Malecon on Amsterdam just north of 97th St
Mi Mundo 1921 mott ave, far rockaway, queens, 718-868-0609
Paradise 243 E. 149. (near Grand Concourse), Bronx
La Fe's (941 Fourth Avenue in park slope, Brooklyn 788-0139 (changed owners?)
El Viejo Yayo Restaurant 36 5th Ave Brooklyn, (718) 622-8922
Jim, I understand the need not to add more restaurants to the mix, but we have to do something (!) about mentioning at least one place in Washington Heights (which might boast the largest Dominican population outside of Santa Domingo.) There's an El Malecon up here, and El Presidente is one of the best Dominican places in the area. Would be happy to do research for you if it helps.
I had a very bad experience in one of the Washington Hts Domincan places once, and I can't remember which one it was...and I'm kind of reluctant to recommend any of 'em until I'm sure I don't pass on the name of this place.
Short version: I popped in at 2am in tuxedo and carrying trombone. Got into very friendly chat with some Domincan people next to me at the counter, speaking Spanish. I'd just gotten done playing a salsa gig. Gradually realized that time was going by and I wasn't being served. A waitress was polishing glasses right in front of me, and I'd not been given a menu. I whisperingly asked the people next to me what was going on; they were super-embarrassed, said "yeah, the people are funny here".
I mean, if I'd popped in at 6pm in a fancy biz suit and briefcase and was talking loud on my cellphone in English, that'd be a slightly different story, but if you can't be served at 2am in a tux with a trombone and speaking Spanish, that's just way over the line. It was six years ago and my blood still boils at the memory. I can handle stares, presumptions of spice intolerance, barely sotto voce gringo jibes, all that. But this was the only time I was every denied service.
The radio in the place was playing a tune by the band I'd just played with.
re: Jim Leff
Ouch. I'd remember that forever too. Presidente and Malecon have been mainstays for us and other chowhounds in the area. (We've had a few posts going on both.) It's possible the night staff was guilty but we'd hope not.
Do you have any idea about what street you wound up on? Was it a recommendation from someone? Maybe we can flush that place out for you.
The original Malecon serves sancocho--they're located north of NY Presbyterian Hospital at 175th and B'way on the NW corner (927-3812), and they've been generous there despite our linguistic inadequacies.
Just found out Presidente doesn't carry it but it's on 163 and B'way, east side of the street. It's a little more "upscale."
If sancocho didn't have pork (most versions do, yes?) we'd try it for you (non-pork eaters are somewhat limited with Dominican cuisine).
There's gotta be some gold here, besides these two places, that we don't know about. Maybe at some point we WH-ers can make a concerted effort to fan out, try 2 new places each and report back!
It was on a side street maybe between 155 and 175), right off broadway, I think, and it was on the south side of the street. Counter perpindicular to the sidewalk when you first walk in. NY Press voted it Best Something or Other back in like 1995 or so.
the worst part of the experience was at the very end. I got up and left in a fury, calling the waitress--in spanish--a witch. her response was a bored, casually contemptuously poisonous "ohkay", and I can't get the sound of it out of my ear. So much hatred. For no reason at all. Argh.
thank goodness for the two hundred thousand GOOD experiences I've had. There's a couple of rotten apples in every bunch.
ps--just to reiterate...wasn't a problem with a single waitress. several were on duty, all ignored me, and the customers were aware that this was a problem here. So it wasn't aberrant.
Jim, unless I'm getting senile, I'm pretty sure sancocho is not on the menu at the further uptown Cafe Con Leche. It might be worth a call to the 80th street branch to see if they have it before you put your name behind a rec. Also, the food quality at the uptown branch varies wildly - some nights it's almost inedible, others satisfyingly tasty...
I'm 99% sure Cafe Con Leche on 80th does not offer Sancocho. Two reasons:
1. It isn't listed on my takeout menu.
2. If it were on the menu inside, I'm sure I would have ordered it.