Bloom in Hastings. (Above)
From ethnic eats to organic feasts, 914 is newly flush with great cuisine.
Things have changed—thank the kitchen gods. Manhattan’s insane rental market means that immigrant neighborhoods are being priced out of the city—and immigrant neighborhoods have always defined the cuisine of “The City”; think pastrami, pizza, bagels, pretzels, Chinatown. Manhattan food is the cuisine of newcomers. And where did all those ethnic neighborhoods go? Many shifted north, to the formerly depressed inner-ring suburbs of New Rochelle, Port Chester, Mount Vernon, and Yonkers. Some have gone even further into Ossining and Peekskill.
Bloom in Hastings.(Above)
So Westchester has been getting sizeable populations of new immigrants, coming from the culinary wonderlands of Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Portugal, Uruguay, and Colombia. Dining out in Westchester has never been so great.
For once, we can lord it over Manhattanites because hip, global cuisine is moving here in droves. In places like New Rochelle and Port Chester, the food scene is so rich and intense that it’s akin to the hotbed restaurant scenes of the East and West Village. The food scene is so competitive, you have to be really good to stay in business. There are just too many educated palates around who won’t stand for sub-par ethnic cuisine. Plus, the guy two doors down is making his own tortillas or he’s just bought a spit and he’s roasting tacos al pastor (a kind of Lebanese/Mexican fusion dish of spitted, chili-rubbed pork that’s very trendy in Mexico City).
Bloom in Hastings.(Above)
The other cool food scene in
Finally, Moroccan is hot! It’s exotic, sexy, veggie-friendly, and one of the few ethnic cuisines that isn’t super spicy—so it manages to be novel without being painful. And it goes well with drinks, which is always cool.
Ready to eat? Here’s where to try some of the county’s hottest cuisines.
Little Mexican Café 581
Corner Mexican Restaurant (Above) 497
Go for rich, flavorful breakfasts of chilaquiles and carne asada, tamales, soul-warming pozole, and sopes.
El Michoacano 485
Go for the state of Michoacan’s regional specialty, carnitas tacos. This is pork that’s been braised in water, then fried in its own rendered fat. “Gutsy” eaters can try El Michoacano’s super-authentic offal tacos, including pork stomach, brain, tongue, head, and tripe.
La Flor de Michoacan 215
Go for a mind-boggling array of paletas, or Mexican fruit-based ice pops. Also worth the trip are La Flor de Michoacan’s aguas frescas. These flavored cold drinks are available in an ever-changing roster of flavors—look for Jamaica (hibiscus flower; you might recognize the color and flavor from Red Zinger tea), tamarind and horchata (rice water with sugar and spices).
Paleteria Fernandez 33 N Main St,
Everyone knows about
Los Gemellos Restaurant & Tortilleria
Adelo Ramirez went one better than all the other taco joints in the neighborhood: he opened his own tortilla factory. Expect super-fresh tortillas wrapped around an incredible array of traditional Mexican meats—the carnitas are especially good. Also good: the chunky, Mexican veal stew, birria, served piping hot in a taco.
Pollo a la Brasa Misti
Great, cheap Peruvian—look for ceviche and steak with lima beans.
Panaderia Uruguaya Las Gemelas
Look for churros with dulce de leche at this Uruguayan bakery. Churros are long, cinnamon sugar-dusted doughnuts (kind of like a cruller) and dulce de leche is milk that’s been slowly cooked down until it’s a sweet, beige, lightly caramelized syrup.
La Flor De Jalisco Bakery
Specializes in pastel de tres leches, or “cake of the three milks.” The milks in question are whole milk, cream, and sweetened condensed milk. Cakes are available whole and by the slice.
Quimbaya’s 193 Main St,
Quimabaya’s offers a complex and unusual coffee menu, featuring specialty drinks and gourmet hot chocolates. All use Colombian chocolate, Colombian coffee, and panela (Colombian sugar-cane syrup). Quimbaya’s house-baked pastries are also gaining fans—these include flaky meat-and-potatoes empanadas, corn cakes, and sweet guava paste/cheese triangles.
Churrasqueira Ribatejo 39 Spring St,
Modestly priced Portuguese grill: go for quails with pirri-pirri sauce, delicious pork chops, crisp/gooey baccalhao (codfish) cakes, grilled chorico, and succulent roasted chicken
Another modestly priced Portuguese. Go for cheap, tasty Portuguese wine and reasonably priced seafood, including its locally famous, impeccably fresh octopus salad and cold mussels with salsa.
This is owner Alain Bennouna’s second incarnation of Zitoune. The first found the restaurant on Manhattan’s Gansevoort Street, smack in the middle of the Meatpacking District’s clubland. The change of address doesn’t mean the party has to stop—check out Zitoune’s belly dancing on Friday nights.
Look for hard-to-find, house-made, stuffed grape leaves; warm, soothing hummus; and spicy, yogurty cacik. Seafood is great here as well, like simply grilled fresh brook trout and branzino. Turkish Meze is a great place to knock back some Turkish beer and wine, and maybe share the wide selection of meze (small plates).
Turquoise 1895 Palmer Ave, Larchmont (914) 834-9888.
This super-popular Larchmont Turkish spot has a great look, a great vibe, and maybe not-so-great food, but when has that ever gotten in the way of coolness?
Cool Organic, Sustainable and Locally Raised
Bloom 19 Main St, Hastings-on-Hudson (914) 478-3250.
Expect high design and even higher prices at this thronged, brand-spanking-new
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Dan, David, and Laureen Barber spearhead this not-for-profit working farm and education center. Blue Hill at Stone Barns was the first area restaurant to show us that organic, sustainable, and local, really translates to hip, chic, and truly elegant.
The Flying Pig on Lexington
The Flying Pig showcases the organic produce, heritage breeds, and aquaponic fish raised on
Peter Pratt’s Inn (Above)
Jonathan Pratt gets most of his produce from local farms (including Jerome and Nancy Kohlberg’s Cabbage Hill Farm and Meadows Farm). That is, if he’s not growing it himself. He has ancient sugar maples that he taps for syrup as well as honeybees, apple trees, and Concord grape vines—all on the grounds of his 260-year-old Yorktown inn. He also forages for morels and chicken mushrooms in the front yard, and in season, can get as much as a pound per expedition. (But only Jonathan’s dearest friends get invitations to Peter Pratt’s Morel Dinner. Mine must have gotten lost in the mail.)
Peter Pratt (Above)
Chef Starkey serves a lighter version of Mexican fare, with much of his produce coming from Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Look for great, reasonably priced tequilas and sangrias, too.