El Barrio Walk-around
Looking for the best cuchifritos / frituras in El Barrio this week. (East Harlem between East 100th and 120th Streets).
Need recs for who's got the best items (alcapurrias, morcilla, bacalaitos, pernil, etc.).
Anything else (drinks, desserts and so on) worthwhile in the neighborhood? Will definitely stop at Patsy's for a couple of well-done slices.
Taco Mix: 234 E 116th. Hole in the wall with fantastic tacos, and the best torta al pastor I've ever had. The place is totally addictive.
Lechonera El Barrio has rather good chicken pastelitos (and of course lechon). The Cuchifritos stand on 116th, however, is a temple to the fry gods that you cannot miss. Pastelitos here highlight crackly shards of fried dough with only a bit of filling, so be forewarned. Morcilla, chicharron, deep fried spare ribs(!), alcapurria are your better bets. Try a sesame drink (ajonjoli) or papaya. Stay away from the bacalaitos, which are grease bombs.
If you want fresh baked goods, try visiting La Marqueta. I believe Dorie Greenspan just opened up a cookie shop there and there is an artisanal bread maker worth visiting. The neighborhood otherwise really excels in Mexican and there are a number of options for tacos (Taco Mix, El Aguila), cemitas (Cafe Ollin as well as street food (vendor on 116th and 2nd).
All good suggestions from the posts above. Taco Mix does have really good tacos. I would suggest a visit to either (or both) La Fonda Boricua, a neighborhood mainstay that closed for a while but just re-opened. Also Sabor Borinqueno, which moved into a new storefront on 3rd ave between 122nd & 123rd. Sabor has my favorite Pernil. Both have just really good Puerto Rican dishes that aren't fancy but taste like what my husbands mom or grandma would cook up. Either way order the Pernil w/ arroz con gandules. La Fonda does really good things with goat.
Other rec's would be: A juice bar on 116th bet. 2nd and 3rd - it's a Mexican juice and loncheria type spot - good for fresh juices and smoothies. Savoy bakery on 110th street bet. Lex and 3rd has great pastries, coffee and desserts - it's a French-Asian style bakery - my fave pastry being a red-bean swirl. The tapas at Lexington Social are worth the stop. Good cocktails, and I loved the fried artichokes and the ricotta -spinach dumplings that come in a brown butter sauce with a bit of nutmeg - delish. But this comes with a higher price tag than all of the earlier rec's - just fyi.
My last suggestion would be to end your day with a pitcher of Sangria and any of the snacks served at Camaradas (1st avenue and 115th). I especially love the Cuban sandwich here. It's a fun Bar scene that transitions from happy hour to full on dance party easily. Great bar, has live and local musicians and Dj's. Worth the trip.
re: Mike R.
I think you might be referring to La Marqueta which spans a few blocks under the train tracks on Park avenue beginning at 116th st. JungMann mentioned it above. It's an interesting place to visit - it's trying to be an incubator of sorts to small food suppliers/ food businesses. Hot Bread Kitchen is in there I believe. There is a meat market, a few produce stands and often times local activities on the weekends. There may be more, but I haven't been in at least 6 months. This place could be so much more (like an Essex street market perhaps), but the powers that be can't agree on how to deal with it. The history of the market space is interesting, though, so if you go look it up.
Also a great place to buy plants across the street.
Took your suggestions and ran with them.
Special mention goes to Sabor Borinqueno, where the pernil was outstanding! Chef Jose personally walked us through his menu and brought forth the real deal - arroz con gandules, yucca, parcha (passion fruit drink), homemade hot sauce and tender ribs with a nutmeg-y spice mix that hit the spot. Just like the best meals I ever had in PR, in places like Rincon and Guavate. The atmosphere is soothing. Prices are totally reasonable for this quality.
Taco Mix came up big as well, we had al pastor and lengua.
La Marqueta's Hot Bread Kitchen stand also serves up a worthy cafe con leche.
Still searching for a "more-fish-than-grease/batter" bacalaito, but E. 116th St. (betw. Lex & 3rd) Cuchifritos' relleno de papa and alcapurria were flavorful.
A quick slice at Patsy's, some street churros at 2-for-$1 and sweet/coconutty ajonjoli drink rounded out the day.