Must-See Washington Heights
by Laura Kusnyer, 07/31/2013
La Casa del Mofongo. Photo: Alex Lopez
If food were a mascot, mofongo would represent Washington Heights. Introduced to the Caribbean by Africans brought to the New World by the slave trade, this dish of fried, mashed plantains is now a Puerto Rican and Dominican staple and a great example of Caribbean comfort food. It's available with a choice of meat or veggies at the popular La Casa Del Mofongo or at Broadway joint El Floridita.
Across the street from El Floridita are a couple of restaurants whose presence poses the eternal question: chicken or beef? If it's the former, visit El Malecon, where spit-roasted poultry lure passersby from the restaurant's windows facing Broadway. If it's beef, cross 175th Street and order the churrasco at the bustling El Conde Steakhouse. And just up the street, there's a tiny restaurant that differs from the norm in the Heights: Cachapas y Más, a Venezuelan greasy spoon that could teach even seasoned Spanish speakers an entirely new foodie vocabulary. The eatery's namesake—celebrated with adorable dancing-corn cartoons on its sign—refers to baby corn cakes. "Más" refers to other caloric indulgences, including slightly sweet sandwiches of patacones (Venezuelan tostones, or fried plantains, essentially) and Venezuelan burritos, or tacuchos.