The Best Winter Food in New York


Chicken stew and rice and beans at Sucelt Coffee Shop

Yes, that is quite a claim, but I firmly believe that without the Cuban/Dominican lunch counters of this fair city, my already severe case of seasonal affective disorder could turn deadly.

Braising and slow-roasting my own hunks of pork, beef, and lamb is a great joy during the dark months, but sometimes you need to be taken care of by someone else. And preferably, on the cheap. Otherwise, how comforting is comfort food, really?

I have never understood why every braise-friendly cuisine has not developed similar eateries: These holes-in-the-wall celebrate food that actually benefits—or at least doesn’t suffer—from sitting in steam tray all day.

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I recently took myself on a small tour of some beloved spots for “comida Latina,” and I feel better, and chubbier already.

La Conquista, on Lafayette, though not particularly camera-friendly (I was reprimanded angrily and banished to the street, but it was worth it), serves the best beef stew I have eaten in recent memory. La Conquista 236 Lafayette Street at Spring (212) 226-9835

Sucelt Coffee Shop, on West 14th Street, makes a mean chicken stew (and don’t forget the tripe soup ). Also, if you’re feeling sniffly, wash it down with some fresh-squeezed orange juice. Sucelt Coffee Shop 200 West 14th Street (212) 242-0593

In Harlem, the competition is huge, as are the restaurants. Malecon Restaurant, on Broadway, works rotisserie magic, and turns out mofongo that, once slathered in the accompanying sauce of pork drippings, beats any SAD lightbulb out there. Malecon Restaurant 4141 Broadway at 175th Street (212) 927-3812

In Chelsea, a few Cuban joints are holding on for dear life, and Milanes Restaurant, which specializes in Dominican homecooking, like the soup Sancocho. Their chicken soup is nothing to scoff at either. The rice has cooked so long that the grains seem to have unraveled into a new kind of noodle.
Milanes Restaurant 168 West 25th Street (212) 243-9797


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