This legendary lunch counter has been on 116th Street in East Harlem since 1961, making it one of the last longstanding Puerto Rican institutions in the area. It’s a NYC treasure, and a paradise for all things fried and porky.
Below the bright, colorful signs outside, you’ll be able to spot whole barbecued chickens stacked on top of one another like a pyramid of poultry, steaming hot tubs of pernil layered with cracklings, fruit juices spinning in their dispensers, and roughly 20 varieties of fritters. There are a couple of swivel stools set up at the counter, but most people come and go quickly for takeout.
Our favorite thing to get at Cuchifritos is an alcapurria filled with rich ground beef. The contrast of fat-soaked, golden crust and the sweet, starchy cassava center will quickly convince you to order more than one. And, at $1.50 a pop, you probably should.