Tag Archives: Sunset Park

Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

Last weekend I had the great opportunity to design a special food tour for a hungry family from New Jersey. They had already explored much of Manhattan and wanted to learn about the best food in Brooklyn. They came to the right guy. We had a car and hopped from food stop to food stop in the hippest borough.

Now this couldn’t really be all the best things in Brooklyn because it would have been a week-long tour. Instead, I curated a list of places that tell the story of food in Brooklyn (we visited a hipster Asian restaurant, an old time Italian red-sauce joint, a brewery, coffee roaster, and dessert).

I also knew that I wanted to showcase the new immigrant food that is iconic to much of Brooklyn. Since the tour would be mostly in South Brooklyn, I looked to Sunset Park. I had my pick of places here – on one side of the neighborhood is Brooklyn’s growing Chinatown along 8th Avenue and on the other side is a large Latin American community huddled around 5th.

So in the name of research, a few days before the tour, I did an unofficial taco crawl trying to decide which of these iconic spots to take the group to.

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My search for the best dumplings in New York continues….

PACIFICANA, 813 55th Street (at 8th Avenue), Sunset Park, Brooklyn

It was very strange coming to Pacificana and saying no to all the women who stopped by with carts. This massive banquet hall is most known for their authentic dim sum. If you’ve never experienced dim sum, Pacificana is the place to start. Women come around with an endless option of dishes and you say yes to those you want. Before you know it, you’ve had a giant meal of little Chinese bites and usually the bill is a lot lower than you expect. (more…)


Category: Dumplings

Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

VENDY AWARDS 2013When I was younger, my favorite day of the year was the night of the Academy Awards. I even got more excited about the Oscars than I did for my own birthday.  All day long, at school, I couldn’t focus on anything but who would win the major awards and what funny things Billy Crystal would say. Unlike some people, I wasn’t as interested in the outfit that Winona Ryder would be wearing.

It’s fitting that some people call the Vendy Awards the “Oscars of food trucks” because it is currently my favorite day of the year. The afternoon is hosted by the Street Vendor Project, who we work very closely with at Turnstile Tours. They fight for the rights of the vendors, a group who are seemingly harrassed by the city for just doing their jobs. The Vendys act as both a fundraiser and a marketing tool, but also as a day of celebration. While the Vendys do hand out official awards, it’s truly  a celebration of the perserverance, hard work, and delicious food of NY’s street vendors.

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For the third year in a row, I’m going to attempt to eat every single item on Time Out New York’s annual 100 Best Dishes list. In no particular order, here’s my take on their Top 100. Let the gluttony continue…

When I was little, my younger brother wanted to be just like me. I would dance to Michael Jackson songs and he’d also don the white glove. I’d dream up imaginary movies and he’d be the first to write the imaginary theme song. It’s natural to look up to your older sibling and try to emulate (or perhaps surpass) their accomplishments. Either that or I was just really cool!

So I get why Chris Iacono opened a very similar restaurant to his brother Mark, after training at Lucali. Both restaurants are intimate, neighborhood pizza spots with no fuss, no major frills, and just pizza.

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For the third year in a row, I’m going to attempt to eat every single item on Time Out New York’s annual 100 Best Dishes list. In no particular order, here’s my take on their Top 100. Let the gluttony continue…

I pity the vegetarian who thinks they have to eat only rice and beans. The word vegetarian implies eating vegetables and those wonders of the earth can be so delicious.

That’s really why I was disappointed with the vegetarian taco at Tacos El Bronco. If it wasn’t on Time Out’s list, I probably would never have ordered the meatless option from this divey taco join, but I did. And I was really hoping for much more than what I got.

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Once again Time Out New York released their Top 100 Dishes of the year and once again, I’m going to eat my way through every one. And no price point or subway delay will stop me. In no particular order, here’s my take on their Top 100.

New York is notorious for not having great Mexican food. Which is partly true, but I think many of those nay sayers don’t know where to look. The best Mexican food I’ve found in this city is either from food carts or hidden all the way in the back of a generic-looking bodega on the corner. There are many of these little shops throughout Manhattan and the East Village. So I’m not surprised to discover one in the Mexican neighborhood of Sunset Park. And if I had the time to fully explore the area, I bet I’d find many more.

But it’s Time Out’s list that brought me to Puebla Mini Market. The name says it all. It’s a pretty small bodega (although not nearly as small as some of the one’s in Manhattan) that has a take out counter with tables and chairs in the back. The choices seem to consist mainly of tortas, which are toasted Mexican sandwiches. They offer more than 20 torta choices, so I was relieved that Time Out enabled me to pick one. Their choice was the Torta de la Casa (Torta of the House).

This monster consisted of three types of pork: ham, bacon, and carnitas (braised and spiced pork). Also, two types of cheese: queso fresco and an Oaxacan string cheese called quesillo. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s loaded with the condiments that every torta here receives: pickled jalapeños, onions, tomato, refried beans, and mashed avocado.

There were great things about this sandwich, but most of them consisted of the fact that it’s just a monster. It was hard to taste all the flavors in each bite and a few bites were actually rather bland. Many of the  pickled jalapeños fell off the sandwich when I picked it up. Probably because the toasted bread is not made to hold this many components. But on a few occasions, when I got all the flavors in one bite, I was quite pleased with this gut-busting torta. The salty cheese, the spicy peppers (when they stayed put), the rich pork, the creamy avocado, the crispy bacon, and the crusty bread seem like the perfect combination of ingredients. And in some ways they were, but I think it was just a little too big for its britches.

But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. It filled me up pretty quickly and piqued my interest regarding the other interesting torta options (they offer everything from a Cuban to a Hawaiian to a Gringa). Sometimes you have to travel far for some great cuisine. But it’s available in this city. Trust me. You just have to know where to look.

Would Puebla Mini Market’s Torta de la Casa make my Top 100 of the year? I appreciate its huge aspirations, but it was just a bit too much for me. The ingredients were fresh and there were some great bites so it gets a 6 out of 10 with hope for other delicious tortas at this location.

PUEBLA MINI MARKET
3908 5th Avenue (between 39th and 40th Street)
Sunset Park, Brooklyn
(718) 435-3326

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