Although many of Manhattan’s Dominican restaurants are located in Inwood and Washington Heights, there are some excellent places you should know about if you spend any time below 14th Street. Whether you’re looking for a bandera lunch, a vegan pastelon, or a 2pm pick-me-up in the form of morir soñando, here are three great restaurants in the neighborhood open for takeout or outdoor dining.
One of our coworkers recently told us that a Dominican restaurant is only as good as its red beans. Using this logic, Rossy’s on East 2nd Street is a paradise. This bakery has a full counter dedicated to various stews and roasted meat like pollo guisado and pernil, as well as crispy pastelitos filled with ground beef and cubes of partially melted queso. The savory options rotate daily, but they always serve bistec con salsa. Get this with some white rice to soak up the garlic and tomato steak juice, as well as sweet plantains and soupy red beans for textural contrast. Also, if you prefer your morir soñando (an orange-based dairy drink that’s popular in the DR) to be milkier than it is citrus-y, you’ll likely scream over Rossy’s version.
If you’re not already familiar with El Riconcito, their excellent Dominican food will ruin your relationship with other neighborhood places you rely on for excellent takeout under $20. This East 10th Street cafe has been in Alphabet City for over 20 years, and although they’re not currently offering any outdoor or indoor dining, you should stop by for takeout and order one of their mofongo platters. We especially like the namesake rinconcito mofongo, which comes with heaps of longaniza, pernil, strips of pan-fried mozzarella cheese, and pork cracklings mixed into a pile of mild green plantains. It’s like a party platter for one, and you may consider it as a possible birthday cake replacement next year. As a requisite side or appetizer, get a pastelito stuffed with pulled chicken (which is smaller and plumper than what you’ll find at Rossy’s).
Neither Rossy’s nor El Riconcito are offering outdoor dining at the moment, so if you’re looking for a place to sit down for a chimi burger and some extremely crispy mofongo with skirt steak and a light tomato broth, try KM1. This Caribbean restaurant on East 1st Street opened in August 2020, and in addition to things like chicharron and honey-glazed jerk wings, the menu has a bunch of meatless Dominican options like a vegan pastelon layered with mushrooms and coconut sauce, a shrimp mofongo, and a vegetarian chimi burger. They’re still waiting for their liquor license but, in the meantime, try one of their shaved ice frio frios (we like the tamarind one). Stop by KM1 for their covered outdoor dining, call 646-669-7547 for pick-up, or place your delivery order online.