Casa Adela and El Castillo de Jagua - delicious PR and Dominican food in the LES
So I've been on a mofongo kick lately, so I tired a few places down by my new apt.
I read a post on mofongo (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/593300) and narcisca recommended this place. So I decided to try it on monday during President's day. It's a small Puerto Rican place with maybe 5 tables that is off the beaten track in Alphabet city (66 Ave C @ 5th St). It's kind of a cool place that is super family run, literally i think the whole family works there, there was a baby, a grandmother etc. Everyone in there was spanish speaking except for us (good sign, i think of it like all chinese people in a chin. They've got telenovelas playing and its a bit nicer than I was expecting (I was expecting a dump). The waitress was very nice albeit the service is a bit slow.
Here's what we got:
- mofongo: this was excellent, they give you a piece of crispy pork skin on the top, which was delicious (i should've asked for more). It comes out in a bowl / plate thing, the mofongo is very tasty with pieces of pork skin hidden with in the big ball of mashed plantains and they give you a soup / gravy to pour over it, which is excellent. The soup gravy is probably more soup like that tastes like a fairly heavy soup stock, its not too salty or overpowering and its slightly spicy, so you can still taste the mofongo. I really liked this.
- rotisserie chicken: apparently the place is known for this as well. The skin is very red-ish in color, so I think they must've rubbed it with some spices or marinade before they stuck it in the rotisserie oven. The skin is delicious and flavorful, the meat however is a bit drier than I like. That said when you hit it with the hot sauce they have at the table its pretty good (the hot sauce is tasty, its some hot sauce from trinidad/tobago
)- rice and beans: i love rice and beans and these were good. Not too much to say other than they were good since rice and beans is pretty self explantory
El Castillo de Jagua:
I've been going here quite a bit lately as its very close to my apt, its good and its cheap. I think this place has been here for a while as it's a random dominican restaurant next to the Rivington Hotel, its sort of a cool hold over from a different time. You walk in and its sort of run down with tables w/ pinic color table clothes (the red and white one). It's always got a bunch of people hanging out at the counter, chatting in spanish with the workers.
Here's what I've gotten so far:
- Mofongo: the mofongo itself is similar to Casa Adela's except that there are more chunks of actual pork meat in the mofongo (I think they are both on par here). The sauce however is different, its much reddish (as opposed to more yellowish version at Casa Adela), its more tangy and spicy. Its also very good, but I prefer Casa Adela's by a bit. I've probably ordered this 3-4 times b/c i really like mofongo
- Pernil (roast pork): this was good, not amazing, but pretty good and unbelievably cheap given how much they give you. They got a big hunk of pork which they shave off pieces of fatty pork, its definitely fatty so if you dont like that this isnt for you. The fat is delicious and the meat is pretty good and tender, not as tender as real good versions ive had, but pretty decent. With some rice and beans its quite good
- Carne Guisado (beef stew): this is a beef stew in a spicy red/orange soup, very similar to an american beef stew just more spicy and flavorful. This was good, the pieces of beef were tender, went great once you had some rice with it.
- Mondongo (tripe soup): this was ehh, the tripe itself was pretty good, but the soup just tasted like american chicken noodle soup and I found it somewhat bland
- Batidas: they've got great milkshakes, their banana milkshake is awesome, highly recommend
Anyhow, both places are good cheap places and highly recommend especially for mofongo.
Lau, thanks for the reports.
I usually wait until I'm on the Upper West Side and go to El Malecon for Dominican, but at some point within the past 2 years or so, I had the mondongo at Clinton Restaurant and liked it very much. Unlike the yellow-sauced mondongo I've had at El Malecon and other Dominican places, theirs came with a red sauce.
(Mondongo is listed in the complete menus under "Sopas")
yeah I would think there are a bunch of places uptown, but that is pretty far from me, so i rarely venture up that way
I've seen Clinton restaurant and I've been meaning to try it...there a bunch of dominican / PR places that are hole in the walls deep in alphabet city that i saw that i plan on trying...never heard of any of them and clearly catering to local spanish speaking crowd (always a good sign)
I recommend Joselito's which used to be on Avenue C and is now on Avenue D, or El Rinconcito on East 10th. La Isla on 14th between A and B, has decent cuchifritos.
EL Nuevo Amanecer on the corner of Essex and Stanton is good for asopao.
Best traditional Dominican might still be Margon, but that's way uptown.
Pan, I've never seen a red mondongo!