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Jun 21, 2014 10:05 AM

Sunset Park: Favorite Restaurants and the Dishes Therein

This has been kind of a dream of mine: to assemble, in separate posts dedicated to neighborhoods, reference guides as to where chowhounders like to eat, and what they like to eat there. l think it'd be a great resource.

l'd love to start with Sunset Park: Chinese, Mexican, whatever...what are your favorite places, and what do you order there?

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  1. Ba Xuyen is pretty awesome Vietnamese, though with a relatively limited menu. It's certainly the best purveyor of those cilantro-sotted sandwiches that everyone seems to want. It has a few great other options and fantastic durian shakes, in season. I'm not a Vietnamese-in-NYC expert, but this is my favorite Vietnamese place.

    1 Reply
    1. re: guanubian

      Any reasonable landscaper of the NYC food scene should recognize Ba Xuyen as the preeminent destination for banh mi. The owner and longtime staff are local legends

    2. First post, South of the border fare:

      El Tesoro Ecuatoriano - ceviches. The fish in salsa verde is pretty good, too.

      Ricos Tacos - Tacos Arabes are a must-order.

      Don Pepe a/k/a Puebla Mini Market - the neighborhood legend. Ludicrously unhealthy tortas. Something like 30 different varieties, and counting.

      La Fe - Dominican fare. Their Cubano is okay (there's better in Manhattan, I've found) but their mofongo is pretty solid.

      Tacos El Bronco, Tacos Matamoros, Tacos Xochimilcho - all good for basic tacos. Lately been leaning towards El Bronco (either the truck or the sit-down location on 4th)

      Puebla De Los Angeles - new place, only been once, not quite Sunset Park (5th at 23rd) but just North of it. Interesting selection of tortas & cemitas - some that you don't see too often. And tacos placeros, which also aren't terribly common (placeros tend to come stuffed with a bit more than the regular tacos, usually a layer of rice at the bottom. kind of between a taco and a burrito) - tried the taco placero con chile relleno (which had a whole CR stuffed inside) and it was pretty solid, aside from the fact that they forgot to take the toothpick out of the chile after frying it. Toothpick aside, it was a tasty gutbomb for $4.50. They also have Tacos Arabes, which were very tasty, especially after a squeeze of lime - theirs are made with beef (Rico's are lamb) - going to be exploring more of their menu in the coming weeks.

      Asian fare - separate post, later.

      7 Replies
      1. re: sgordon

        Excellent, thank you!

        And thanks for the tip on Puebla, as l didn't know about it. FYI, Tacos Cachanilla on 5th and 58th has good tacos placeros, as well, and they also do an absolutely insane chile relleno placero: whole chile relleno, rice, and...french fries! You won't leave hungry after that one, if you're able to leave at all.

        Totally agree on Ricos Tacos' arabes: superb, and it's been too long since l've had them. Tulcingo on 5th Av. makes good ones, too. l should do a shootout!

        1. re: howdini

          Ricos Arabes are definitely my preference. They're always a stop when I do any shopping down that way. I haven't tried Tulcingo's - think I've only been there once. Are theirs lamb or beef?

          I'll have to check out Tacos Cachanilla - no fries on Puebla's, but some nice fresh avocado on top. It was big (picture below) - definitely a meal in a taco.

          Puebla just opened late last year - I think the spot used to be called Guerrero? Noticed it one day as I was heading to Time Warner to replace a faulty cable box. Finally got around to trying it. Again, only a first impression, need to explore it a little more. But it's just the kind of unhealthy food you don't want to explore more than once a week...

          There are some tortas/cemitas I've never had (or even seen) before - Toluquena, Paisa - though nothing as batshit insane as Don Pepe's menu.

          1. re: sgordon

            Ah, l used to live around the corner from Guerrero: they had really good tacos and cemitas and less common treats.

            There also used to be Linda Bakery on 21st and 5th: in addition to the crazy Mexican cakes with their icing made of pure lard, they made nice greasy tacos and stuff [a particular fave was their cheese roll: an oily yellow roll with a slice of American cheese baked into it...oh, man, what a great snack!], *and* they were open 24hrs[!]; a perfect spot after a night of carousing. Both places unhealthy in the best of ways.

          2. re: howdini

            Update: Cachinilla is closed. That's where Tacos Tijuana B.C. is now. Although the menu looks the same so it might have just been a name change.

            I remember walking by TTBC and being curious, since I'd never seen a Baja joint in Sunset Park before, but the name aside, menu didn't look Baja at all - seemed like the usual Oaxaca / Puebla / Southern Mexican fare.

            1. re: sgordon

              Huh! Did you notice if the interior was completely insane, with all kinds of festoonery hanging from the ceiling? lf so, it might not have changed at all...

              1. re: howdini

                Didn't really look inside, I'll have to check again.

                After a return trip to Rico's I'm going to go on record and say I prefer the Arabes at Puebla, beef or lamb issue aside. I found the Pan Arabe itself better, and given how much of the spicy chipotle sauce Rico's puts on (too much, IMHO) it's almost irrelevant what protein they use anyway.

                There's still a lot to like about Rico's, mind you. I find it oddly charming (though I imagine some might find it frustrating) how the waitresses will simply walk up to you speaking Spanish and seemingly not give a damn if you can understand a word of it or not. I also like their guac, table salsas, etc, more than most, and man they do stuff their tacos about as full as possible. And their Al Pastor is always solid, among the better versions in the hood.

                1. re: sgordon

                  Thanks for the update; l'll definitely check out Puebla when l'm in the neighborhood.

                  Agreed on Rico's salsas; speaking of which, l posted on the Manhattan board last week about El Aguila, right across from the 103rd 6 train stop: very good Mexican with a standout torta tinga and stellar salsas. Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.

        2. Has anyone else checked out the new food court in Industry City? It looks like there are a lot of commercial kitchens with some opening up attached storefronts. I walked through the other day and there were maybe three places up and running, all doing a brisk lunch business. Colson Patisserie and Ninja Bubble Tea, and another whose name I've forgotten. There was a spot for Blue Marble as well, though it didn't look ready to open to the public. There's a nice outdoor courtyard with tables and chairs.

          2 Replies
          1. re: versicle

            Looking at the IC line-up, it doesn't appear to be anything anyone would want/need to go out of their way for, or even add to a food tour of the hood. A lot of things you can get at Whole Foods and/or Union Market or the like. Fairly sweets/pastry heavy line-up as well, between Blue Marble, Liddabit, and the so-idiotic-a-name-I-don't-even-want-to-type-it "The Fashion Chef" - it all seems more like an amenity being used to attract new tenants. Not something like, say, Gotham West or whatnot.

            1. re: sgordon

              Not a destination maybe, but nice for people who work over there.