Local Flavor Edition in New York, NY
Brooklyn’s Crown Heights may not seem like the ideal place for Manhattanites to travel just to satisfy their sweet tooth, but the long commute is always worth it if the destination happens to be this beloved bakery. Whether you’re looking for a classic birthday cake or simply a delicious treat, Lily & Fig is your dream shop. Inside this brownie brown bakery you’ll find fluffy carrot cake, red velvet cupcakes frosted to perfection, and drool-worthy walnut maple meringue tortes. Of course, you can always settle for ginger snaps and a cup of hot chocolate. Founder Funmi Johnson-Dibia is the sweetest (no pun intended) owner you’ll ever meet and you won’t step outside Lily & Fig without a full stomach and Chester’s grin on your face!
If you’re looking for the king of mofongos, then you need to hop on the subway to Manhattan’s Inwood section, to Albert’s, for the finest Dominican cuisine found on the island. Inside the cozy restaurant you’ll hear the faint sounds of salsa playing in the background, and feel as if you were eating in your Dominican mother’s kitchen. The presentation of food is just as pleasing as its flavors. Savor golden orbs of fried plantains cooked with freshly cut garlic cloves, sweet onions, and hen consommé. Mofongos with oozing melted white cheese, and plump shrimp are served with a cilantro broth that soaks the giant, meaty “sundae.” ViagraFongo-one of Albert’s original interpretations-turns eaters on with thick hunks of assorted seafood ideally relished with an ice-cold Presidente, the Dominican Republic’s widely celebrated beer.
Anyone can tell you that there are as many Chinese restaurants in Chinatown as NYU dorms in the Village. However, there’s one amazing place to wine and dine, except you’ll need to find it first. To visit 88 Palace, which is located under the Manhattan bridge, one has to enter through street level glass doors into the mini-Chinese Mall and find the escalator to the second floor for the tiny gold and red crystal chandeliered restaurant. The kicker? The 88 Palace Restaurant has no signage. This group-friendly eatery can seat up to a few hundred people and it’s one of the largest halls of authentic Cantonese Dim Sum in Chinatown. Look for irresistible bites, such as shrimp with bacon rolls, steamed dumpling filled with thin slices of pork, luscious coconut milk custard, and stuffed eggplant accompanying freshly made wonton soup.
New Yorkers are often searching for the best Mexican or Chinese restaurant, but Nigerian? Luckily, it’s not as difficult as it sounds because BUKA NYC, one of Brooklyn’s hidden treasures, will not disappoint. This loft-like restaurant with exposed brick walls has some of the hottest dishes around, so be prepared to clear up those sinuses! Expect plates of whole grilled fish with juicy tomatoes, steamed melon with finely shredded spinach, lip smacking goat pepper soup, and tender white yams soaked in a rich broth. In addition to Nigerian cuisine, BUKA NYC also serves weekly events, including salsa fiestas. There’s nothing like adding spice to your life with some mouthwatering Nigerian grub at BUKA NY.
Step inside Los Primos in Brooklyn, a tropical oasis where plunging palm trees, mosaics of farmers tending their crops, and a rainbow of parrots surround guests in a rainforest-like setting. With merengue blasting from the jukebox, plates overflowing with rice, beans, and fried plantains are served alongside icy cold beer. While lobster and clam enchiladas are Los Primos’ specialty, there are other yummy delicacies to try, such as grilled chicken breast stuffed with sautéed vegetables, octopus ceviche (a Latin-style sushi), and the rich “7 power soup.” Be warned, the music played at Los Primos may be too loud for casual dining, but it’s guaranteed to start a fiesta on any weeknight.