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JP Latin America Restaurants Recommendations

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OK, so after living in JP for several years I am a bit ashamed by my lack of mastery when it comes to JP's many Latin American restaurants.
Of course I've been to el Oriental many times. I tried Miami Cafe once and was not crazy about it, but would be happy to give it another try. And I thought La Papusa Guanaca was great. I have not ventured further down Centre Street than that.

I would love to hear people's recommendations, and if you could mention a dish or two that you liked there, and maybe a little flavor about the place, I would really appreciate it.


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  1. You've mentioned most of my favorites (I'm not a huge Miami fan, either).

    Tacos El Charro used to be terrific, but I haven't been back in years; run by a nice Mexican couple, been around longer than just about any taqueria I know. Acapulco is okay in a chain-y way. I'm not a fan of the Purple Cactus.

    On my list to try: El Embajador, Latino Restaurant, Cafeteria Tropical, Mi Tierra, Alex's Chimis (I hear the rotisserie chicken here is great),

    1 Reply
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      For the love of God, man, DON"T do it!!!!
      My (old) review of El Embajador....

    2. Alex's Chimis is great (rotisserie chicken, make sure to get the onions and hot sauce)
      Yely's coffeeshop has all kinds of sausages and chicken and a whole bunch of sides

      Both are cheap but have limited seating (great for takeout).
      Try Miami again, I liked it, and its nice that they have beer and wine (as opposed to El Oriental)

      1. El Embajador on Washington St. is very good. Homemade-style food and cheap, as I recall. I've been there a couple of times.

        1. Try Miami Cafe again. They have great Cubanos (best in JP in my opinion), an excellent chicken soup and wonderful chicharones. Their braised oxtails are also a favorite of mine.

          1 Reply
          1. re: RichardinJP

            I really really like Miami as well. I like it better than El Oriental, in fact.

            The thing to get at Miami is Chivo, a rich goat stew, slow cooked in brown sauce. For something like 10 bucks, you get a massive portion of chivo, a side container of sweet plantains (platano maduro frito), pinto beans, and rice. The goat is SO tender and flakes off in each bite.

            Don't ask for chiva though, 'cause that's something else. *grin*

          2. We had a really fun "crawl" in JP summer before last: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/432652.

            One highlight: In warm weather, there's been a cart called Madego's, on Center, a bit closer to Jackson Square then Hyde Square, with good empanadas and a very warm owner.

            1. Thanks to everyone who has replied. I tried Alex's Chimis and very much enjoyed my chimi de pierna (pork), tostones and empanada. Especially the chimi.

              On another note, I took a stroll down the rest of Centre St from Hyde Square down to Jackson square and here are my thoughts. Besides Miami, La Papusa, El Oriental, Tacos al Charro and Alex's (restaurants people have already mentioned) I did not see very many restaurants.

              There were about three pizzerias, several small markets, and a Chinese place. Also a bakery and a coffee shop (maybe either served food). There was another restuarant called Latino Restaurant. Anyone tried that? Fredid, I must have missed Madego's, I just didn't see it.

              There's another Latin American food restaurant on Amory St, a bit of a hole in the wall, that I tried a while back. I thought it was so-so. And there are 2-3 LA restaurants on Washington Street near Canto 6. I posted a while back about those and the replies were not positive regarding quality.

              Thanks again, any other thoughts are welcome and encouraged.

              7 Replies
              1. re: egc

                I think you might have read my post a little too quickly! Madego has a cart and has been out in warm weather - e.g. the springtime! Also, I haven't been by there in a couple of summers, so I'm not sure if he's still there. He and his wife also have a place in Chelsea.

                1. re: fredid

                  Got it. Sorry. I'll look out for it when the weather is warm and post.

                2. re: egc

                  Close to Jackson Square on Centre are Yely's Coffee Shop (my favorite) and Cafeteria Tropicale which has more seating and variety. Agree that the place on Amory is so-so (or worse).

                  1. re: gourmaniac

                    Thanks. What did you like at Yely's?
                    I didn't see Tropicale. There was a place right on Centre, I think on the corner of Chestnut, that has closed and is now housing a tax service.

                    1. re: egc

                      I like the Chicharonnes. It should come with a side of lipitor. Tropicale is a largish place on Centre across the small street where Yely's is.

                      1. re: egc

                        I think egc may be right that Tropicale has closed; I got off the bus there and was wondering where it was.

                    2. re: egc

                      I went to Latino ages ago, one of my first visits to those restaurants. They serve you kind of like they do at Alex's, slightly more "formal' spot. It was fine. Can't believe I still haven't gone to the Estrella bakery or Yely's, one of these days. Completely not Latino, but I kind of like the coffee shop by the video store.