What’s Good: 7 Hidden NY Latino Food Gems You Need to Try
BETTER DRIVES US. HYUNDAI
New York City is known for its vibrant culture — after all, it’s the city that never sleeps. The night life, Broadway shows, museums, but the best part about visiting New York? The food! Specifically, the Latin American food.
Not only are these restaurants serving up delicious plates of the most incredible Latino dishes, but they’re also bettering their neighborhoods and giving back. Which is something the world totally needs right now.
Here are 7 mouth-watering NY spots totally serving up pure goodness.
1. Hecho En Dumbo
What started out as a pop-up Mexican joint in Dumbo, Brooklyn has now flourished into a full restaurant, thanks to Chef Danny Mena. This place will satisfy all of your small-plate cravings, from Gorditas de Chicharron Prensado to Salbutes de Pollo, there is something for everyone.
The best part about this eclectic Mexican restaurant? The fact that it was part of City Harvest’s food rescue donation. Along with several other New York restaurants, Hecho En Dumbo donated food that went to about 500 soup kitchens and community food programs in the five NYC boroughs. City Harvest helps to feed the almost 1.4 million New York residents that face starvation every single year.
It’s pretty amazing to see a business journey from a mere pop up dream of Mexican cuisine to helping feed people in need.
2. Oaxaca Taqueria
Talk about a restaurant that encourages community with its patrons – Oaxaca Taqueria has several locations in New York that are absolutely dedicated to spreading the goodness, by bringing New Yorkers authentic food with the flavors and culture of Oaxaca.
What’s unique about this restaurant is that they are dedicated to cultivating a community — which is why they have an entire merchandise section on their website. Yup, you can totally rock a Oaxaca Taqueria T-shirt that reps a place which prides itself in being locally sourced. So not only will you look fashionable, but you can feel good about eating food that is positive for our environment and earth.
Ask anyone about FONDA in New York and they’re sure to all say the same thing: GO!
Roberto Santibañez is the genius behind FONDA (located in Park Slope, East Village, and Chelsea), and his dishes such as Taquitos San Andres, or the sublime Tostadas de Carne are worth visiting. The team at FONDA also does something incredible: they founded the Mexican Heirloom Corn Initiative, aka “Farm to Fonda.”
All of FONDA’s tortillas are made with 100% heirloom corn from family farms in Mexico, GMO-free, all natural, all organic. The initiative is all about bring good to the hood, by supporting independent Mexican farmers, and also providing FONDA’s patrons with healthy, sustainable, delicious food.
Chavela’s is a staple to Brooklyn cuisine, and its founder is the definition of the American Dream. Arturo Leonar has an inspirational journey; he was born and raised in Mexico City and moved to New York when he was just a young man. He worked his way up and worked hard. In 2007, he and his wife, Desiree, opened up a tiny little restaurant and worked every single aspect of it. Just them hustling hard, no team,
In 2011 he upgraded to a bigger space and Chavela’s began to take off. It’s a place that brings family and friends together, and for a moment you completely forget you’re in Brooklyn at all. That’s the beauty of Chavela’s – with its bright colors, exquisite menu, and excellent service, Leonar has created a place that feels like home to so many. Which is why Chavela’s totally brings the good to the Brooklyn hood – its positivity radiates out of its doors.
5. La Esquina NYC
It’s hard not to fall in love with La Esquina, the New York joint that takes Mexican Street food to a whole other level. It’s a mysterious place, one with a secret underground restaurant and a menu of vibrant tacos that makes anyone’s mouth water (bistec, tinga de pollo, and carnitas tacos, anyone?)
A cool aspect about La Esquina is that it offers live Latin music to it’s patrons, a huge proponent of bringing Mexican culture to NYC. Not only that, but they have an “art” section on their website…any restaurant that supports the arts is a place worth dining and giving your money to. They keep Mexican culture and history alive by submerging customers in a rich, authentic experience — which is an excellent way to educate the community.
6. El Atoradero Brooklyn
A Latino restaurant owned and operated by a woman is so much inspo! Denisse Lina Chavez’s journey to becoming a restaurant owner is truly an inspiration, and she’s the mastermind behind this awesome place that started out as a street bodega. Chavez’s specialty is her blue-corn tortillas, shipping in a custom masa machine from Jalisco to nixtamilize them.
The menu is out of this world – boasting dishes like chorizo tacos and burritos, to enchiladas de mole poblano con queso.
The most impressive thing about this place? Chavez herself. She went from her street bodega, to El Atoradero, which went out of business. But she didn’t give up – she kept working, and then opened the flourishing El Atoradero Brooklyn. Every time you eat at this place, you’ll be reminded that hard work DOES pay off, to keep going, work hard, and to pursue what fulfills you.
7. The Black Ant NYC
Who knew food that involved insects could be so delicious? That’s right – The Black Ant NYC, uses ants, chapulines, and numerous other insect ingredients to serve up tasty dishes. There’s the enchilada de conejo, a braised rabbit and queso fresco specialty, as well as the croquetas de chapulin, whose main ingredient is grasshoppers.
The masterminds behind it all? Jorge Guzman, who grew up in the Dominican Republic, and chef Mario Hernandez. Their mission is to bring the history of Mexico and Quetzalcoatl to the modern Mexican cuisine of New York City. Again, another place bringing history and education to residents – which only helps better the community in which it thrives.
What’s Good in Your Hood isn’t just about great food, but also uncovering the stories about the owners who pour their heart and soul into what they do. When we look beyond the menu, we see that there is a passion and drive for a better life for their family and a strong relationship with their community.