Grease is the word! Deep-fried pasteles, chunky chicharrón and other delectably cheap bites fuel uptown's Latin fiesta.
When I think of cheap food in Manhattan, my mind wanders to the dumpling stalls of Chinatown and the hobo-friendly, dollar-slice pizza joints of Hell’s Kitchen. Maybe I’ve been in Brooklyn too long, but rarely do I think of neighborhoods north of Central Park, save for Spanish Harlem.
“What about Washington Heights?” asked my friend Gabi, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than a decade.
Down 181st Street, she explained, awaits a bazaar of cheap Dominican, Mexican and Puerto Rican eats, from crunchy chunks of chicharrón to deep-fried chicken pasteles, pork tamales and pastries stuffed with guava and cream cheese.
Was she yanking my chain? To find out, I rode the A train to 181st Street. I emerged from the subway station to an unseasonably sunny, warm fall afternoon—and some of the cheapest food on the isle of Manhattan. Here’s how I made 10 dollars disappear, in a most greasy, unhealthy manner. Pass the Tums, please.
By Joshua M. Bernstein; photos by Sam Horine
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