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Oct 18, 2007 03:51 PM

Spanish Harlem

Just moved to 115th street, any good restaurants in the area? Should I open one up?

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  1. Try some of Patsy's pizza and see how you like that. 1st Ave and 117th .

    1. Taco Mix on 116th--between Third and Lex. Love their Al Pastor.

      10 Replies
      1. re: traceybell

        from the top of my head...Treichville (Cote d'ivoire) on 118 bet 1st and 2nd, Taqueria el paso (i prefer the 104 and lexington location but now they have 3),La fonda boricua (103 bet lex and 3rd...hit and miss but the hits can be good).

        1. re: LRS

          i think la fonda is on lex and 104 not between the avenues

          1. re: thew

            La Fonda Boriqua is actually on 106th between Third & Lex.

            1. re: City Kid

              there are 3 la fondas actually - when the poster said 103 i thought of the one between 103 and 104, there is one on 97, and i mistakenly thought the other is around 117th, and it didnt pop to mind given the 103 number

              1. re: thew

                I only know of one La Fonda Boriqua, are there others? Are you thinking of El Paso Taqueria, which does have 3 locations (116th, 103rd, and 97th)?

                1. re: City Kid

                  you are so right.

                  totally and completely

                  yet another brain fart to add to the list

        2. re: traceybell

          Bistro Itzocan - I think it's 101st and Lex - but worth the walk - all of their huitlachoche dishes are great. I've also read about a bakery in that area, I think own by a Morrocan man, but with wonderful pastries - will try to find it for you.

            1. re: mascny

              It's a little pricier than some of the other places, but reasonable for the great quality of the food. Actually - it's called Itzocan Bistro - I always get it wrong:

              1575 Lexington Ave- At 101st St
              New York, NY 10029

              212 423-0255

              The menu is on - the duck quesadilla is excellent, as are the mussels, the lamb shank and the prawns. They have a limited wine list, but are very amenable to your bringing your own - I can't remember if they charge a corkage fee, but if they do, it is very low.

              1. re: MMRuth

                I am obsessed w/ their mussels--I even ate them when I was otherwise green w/ a stomach virus b/c they're so good, and their bread is well above average and perfect for soaking up the juices.

        3. For some great Indian food: Polash, 3rd Ave. bet. 118th&119th.

          On the same block, a few doors down, Creole.

          I also like Mesa Mexicana: 117th St. bet. 2nd-3rd Avenues.

          And for something a bit different (Italian/Spanish/American): Orbit on 116th & 1st.

          Happy eating and do report back!

          4 Replies
          1. re: gloriousfood

            mesa mexicana is great! but i don't think their business is doing so well. an owner told me they may have to close soon...

            y'all spanish harlem people, let's storm them with business to keep them alive!

            1. re: baconstrip

              I'm sorry to hear about Mesa Mexciana and hope it doesn't close. Is it owned by the same folks who own Noche Mexicana on the West Side? Their menus are identical, right down to the design.

              1. re: gloriousfood

                I went to Mesa Mexicana last night and, unfortunately, it was pretty much a travesty. I suspect that the cook must have changed since 2007.

                When we arrived at 7, there was one other couple there and the place seemed to be doing a brisk delivery business. We started with guacamole - I thought it was ok, though too cold (obviously made ahead of time), but my husband thought it was pretty bad. We also ordered some pico de gallo, which was also cold. I'd never had a huarache, so I ordered one with carnitas, and then two tacos - chicken, and Mexican chorizo. My husband wanted the chuleta, but they were out, so he went with Bistec Azteca - Nopales, Cebolla Y Jalapeno (steak aztec style with grilled onions, jalapenos and grilled cactus). (When we discussed the meal on the way home, he told me that he makes it a rule never to order Bistec in any kind of Spanish/Latin American restaurant. When I asked him why he ordered it, I was told that I'd pressured him into it. No idea how that happened!)

                We waited for what seemed like absolutely ages for our food to come out. I thought my huarache looked pretty good, and it was huge, so I was worried that with the two tacos, I had over ordered. Fortunately, that turned out not to be the case, as I ended up sharing my meal with my husband. He said the bistec was the absolute worst thing he has ever eaten, and that the meat did, in fact, taste like what he thought a leather sole would taste like. I didn't taste the meat, but the black beans had a film on top that looked like the film that pudding gets on top when it has been sitting out too long. The onions and jalapenos were unbelievably greasy.

                I thought the huarache tasted pretty good, though the carnitas were a bit dry. It had tomatoes, lettuce, crema, and some beans, in addition to the carnitas. The tacos were a bit disappointing - each one had just the meat, lettuce and tomato, and both were pretty dry. The meats tasted as if they had been cooked far too long ago, and, really, most of the ingredients looked rather sad. No limes or radishes. We ordered more cream to help them out.

                With two diet cokes, the tab was about $33 plus tax, plus the $18 in taxis to get there. We'd hoped to find something we like better than El Paso Taqueria, but this isn't it.

                When we left, I espied a little coffee/cafe place around the corner on 3rd Avenue - Spaha Cafe (yes, that is Spanish Harlem abbreviated - a bit on the cute side) - and had an excellent espresso there. It's sort of an upscale-ish, 'gentrifying' place, which I realize may have its detractors, but the food - sandwiches, baked goods, etc. - looked quite good. Apparently some of it is made there, and some of it is purchased elsewhere. The woman behind the counter recommended Moustache and Kiosk for future visits. On our way home, going down Lexington, I noticed a third El Paso Taqueria on the left - might have to give it a try as well.

                Edit: I forgot to mention a rather amusing yet annoying aspect of the dining experience, the music. One song would come on and play to the end, and then there would be silence for the time it would take for maybe three songs, then another song, then silence. Rather peculiar!

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Wow, thanks for this info...guess I'll stick to El Paso. I had passed Spaha Cafe and wondered about it, now I'll give it a try.

                  Moustache is very good, fresh, reasonable Turkish/Middle Eastern and just the sort of thing we could use more of. If you want to try homestyle Puerto Rican I suggest La Fonda Boriqua (older posts here too) -- sort of a PR coffee shop and if you don't mind something even more modest, but clean and very good food and friendly service, there's Lechonera El Barrio Restaurant on 103rd btw. Third & Lex.

          2. Another vote for La Fonda Boricua. Actually it's on 106th between Lexington and Third. Great cheap eats--some of the best arroz con gandules I've ever had!

            2 Replies
            1. re: MizYellowRose

              yes LFB is on 106, sorry for the typo

              1. For Italian, try Piatto D'Oro on 109 St. between 1st &2nd Ave, closer to 1st.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ajs42548

                  A spot I tried recently that was very impressive was La Casa De los Tacos on the NW corner of 117th and 1st Ave- down the block from Patsy's. Had a taco de bistec and a torta de pechuga empanizada con queso- breaded chicken cutlet with cheese. Very affordable- cheap- and very good. Worth a visit if in the area.

                  1. re: HowfreshEats

                    When we venture off of Ward's Island for lunch this is a really nice place to go for tortas. I've had better alambres than they serve, but the tortas really hit the spot, and are a bargain at $5.50. The chorizo and cheese is my fave at this time. Obviously, we discovered it when making a Patsy's run.