Where else but New York do kids grow up thinking that Cuban-Chinese is just another takeout option? Restaurants serving yellow rice, black beans, and sweet plantains alongside lo mein and fried rice became city staples in the 1960s, when members of Cuba’s Chinese community fled to New York in the wake of the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power. The result was cheap neighborhood joints that served food from both countries. It isn’t fusion — the dishes are kept in separate categories on the menu. But diners combine with abandon: A typical dinner may start with a wonton soup and avocado salad before platters of rice, beans, ropa vieja, chow fun, and bok choy arrive, with flan and cafe con leche to complete the meal. And even though the Upper West Side, like the rest of the city, becomes more mall-like with every passing year, La Caridad keeps it real, harking back to a Broadway before Barneys and Lululemon. The restaurant, which opened in 1968, is still inexpensive, the utilitarian decor remains largely unchanged, and the rice is still kept warm in heated metal drawers. And the surly and friendly male waiters still speak in Spanish, write down orders in Cantonese, and keep up running banter with diehard loyalists in old-school Upper West Side dialect.
2199 Broadway, Manhattan
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