At the top of my to-do list

I’ve been on a Port Chester binge lately. And in delving deeper into PC goodness, I’ve been tripping over some new places that I’m dying to try. If only I didn’t have pesky work (or limited cash), I’d try them today. But in the meantime, here are the three places now at the top of my to do list:

  1. Rancho Grande, 8 Poningo Street, Port Chester, NY
    This is a little Mexican place that always seems so lonely I feel guilty not going in and trying it out. Every time I pass by, one of the owners is peering out the window like a puppy dog waiting for an owner. If for no other reason than to absolve myself of guilt, I need to try this place.
  2. Aqui es Santa Fe Cafe, 32 Broad Street, Port Chester, NY 10573 (914) 305 1060
    IMG00008-20081204-1323
    I wrote up more about this place here on Chowhound, but, briefly, it’s a nice, cozy little place for which I’m holding out a lot of promise.
  3. Keylee’s Restaurant, 11 Pearl St., Port Chester, NY
    Keylee's Guatemalteco Restaurant
    I snapped this photo as a friend and I drove down to Rinconcito Migueleño. I have no idea how long this has been around, but any place that references “guatemalteco” food is worth noticing. I’m hoping for some great hand-made tortillas. Here’s hoping.

So many places, so little time…


Chapines Deli in Mt. Kisco, NY

I’ve written about this place before – though it’s probably been two years ago – but I thought I’d give an update.

I went again for lunch today. Very good casual Guatemalan food there. First, their empanadas are quite good. They are hand made and fried. Try the chicken. Second, the tacos are excellent – primarily because of the tortillas which are all hand made. These are a little different to mexican tortillas. They are much thicker, but much softer. Hand patted, griddle cooked, and steaming goodness. They had fried pacaya, quite a few other good steam-table offerings as well. I still haven’t tried their tamales, but intend to next time.

Now, I think the key is going there early for lunch. You’ll battle the crowds of workers coming in, but most are there just for take out. It has only three very small tables. But if you go early, the tortillas and all the food is freshly homemade. I’ve been there for dinner and the tortillas weren’t as fresh. Not sure if that’s always the case or not.
The tacos are pretty good. The fillings are tasty enough, I guess (stick with the bistek, which though a little salty, is the tastiest). My chorizo filling wasn’t that great. But it didn’t matter since the tortillas were so dang good.

This is NOT a fancy place. This place gives dive it’s name. But if you are looking for a guatemalan fix, or just some really dang good hand made tortillas, this is your place.

(originally posted to Chowhound)


Revisiting La Herradura in New Rochelle

A year or two ago, I finally made it to La Herradura and had one of the better tacos I’ve ever had in the Tristate area. Hand made tortilla, flavorful grilled skirt steak (really), guacamole, etc. It was awesome. I’ve recommended the place pretty highly based on that one taco and the fact that the interior isn’t dingy – which is generally the case with the places I like.

But Laylag’s post here had me concerned: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/48539…
So, I decided to go back there yesterday and check it out. Boy was I disappointed. It didn’t even seem like the same food.

Like laylag experienced, the only salsa was the table salsa, which is a tomato sauce concoction. Bad and boring.

I ordered two tacos – grilled steak (same one that enthralled me last time) and a shrimp taco. My wife order flautas, and the kids had a variety of dishes.

First, no more hand made tortillas. Same tortillas that you get anywhere.

Second, they put lettuce on their taco. What??? Granted, these were their “Herradura” style tacos, which I’ve now realized must mean “Gringo” taco to them. You get guac, lettuce and pay $2 more per taco.. But last time I went and ordered it, it certainly didn’t have lettuce. That’s an unforgiveable abomination in my book.

The steak was still pretty good, but not great. The guacamole was OK. But overall, extremely average.
My shrimp taco was actually pretty good, but for $4 bucks, it better be.

Wife’s flautas were quite poor and everything else we ordered was your standard typical east coast bad mexican. Really disappointing.

What’s happened? Was my first visit a crazy anomaly? But if they were hand making their tortillas when I went the first time, that’s not something they do just on some odd night… that’s very a deliberate attempt to go above and beyond. It takes skill and dedication to hand make tortillas for a restaurant operation.

So I’m guessing they’ve changed their cooking staff or something? The menus look exactly the same though.

Anyhow, sadly, I can’t recommend it any longer. But, at least there are still 4 other above average Mexican places within walking distance.

[originally posted on chowhound]


Sunshine Deli now has tlacoyos!

Went by for lunch today and was about to order some tacos. But I saw a plate of, what looked like Tlacoyos. So I asked the guy behind the counter and he said they have them as a special fairly frequently. This is good news – I haven’t had tlacoyos out here in the tristate area. I’m sure they sell them somewhere – I just haven’t noticed.

Tlacoyos are sort of like huaraches, but thicker and smaller. Sort of a hybrid between a huarache and a Salvadoran pupusa. It’s a thick masa, stuffed with beans or chicharron, then flattened and griddle fried.

Sunshine’s were very good. Mine were filled with refried beans, slathered with their chipotle salsa, cotija cheese and topped with chicken (on my first) and beef (on my second). Very good. Crisp edges, chewy interior. I didn’t ask if they had chicharron, but probably should have. They were $2.50 each.

Like some of the other great food at Sunshine, it doesn’t appear on their menu. The problem there is that their specials aren’t listed anywhere, and there’s no regularity to when they make them (cochinita pibil is a perfect case in point). So when you go, just be sure to ask what their specials are.

[originally posted on chowhound]


Q in Mt Kisco Now Open!

OK, so I made it there this afternoon. The place was hard to find – there’s no sign whatsoever yet and it’s in a little nondescript strip mall that looks like all the places are being renovated so none of them have signs. I think it’s next to a UPS store. I did some back and forth before I found it – all in the spirit of helping out my fellow chowhounds (heck, I even got a flat tire in the process… how’s that for taking one for the team).

Anyhow, if you find it you’ll be happy. Everything on the menu was half off while they finish their dining room and kitchen (for order in only – not take out). I’m not sure how long that will last.

So I ordered a platter so I could sample. I was really, really happy with what I ordered. Their brisket, which is the hardest of them all to pull off, was perfect. Pulled pork was very good as usual. The chicken was quite good – it was the white meat so not my favorite, but it was pretty good too. The chilli was great and the sausage was fine (not a huge fan of kielbasa style… but it was good).

The only major thing I didn’t order was ribs. I wish I had, as the only other time I had ribs at Q in port chester I found them to be just so-so. Wondering if that was an off night and how the ones in Kisco compared.

It’s the same ordering sequence as the other Q and everything seemed the same. The dining room was more open, but probably the same amount of seats (taking into consideration the upstairs of the PC location.

We had a few very minor delays getting the order – they were clearly working out the service kinks – but I don’t care so long as the food was great, which it was. Plus, the fact that they were giving half off shows they recognize it and appreciate their customers. Plus the owner or manager or whoever that was there was very friendly and took the time to make sure everyone was doing alright. All in all, a nice touch I thought.

So, folks, give it a try. Not sure if the half off deal will be through this weekend or not, but it’s worth it even for full price.

Enjoy.

[originally posted on Chowhound]


Some Thoughts on Jamaican in Fairfield and Westchester Counties

So, over time I’ve tried a lot (certainly not all) of the Jamaican places in lower FF county (Norwalk to Greenwich) and a few in Westchester as well (mostly around the White Plains area).

I’ll list them below, but here’s my question… are there any truly good beef patties out there? I liked the ones at le petit pattisserie (sp?) in WP before it closed, though I still didn’t think they were tremendous. But even at places that have good jamaican otherwise, I have found all their patties to be average. What’s worse is that a lot of the places are selling pre-made patties. Where can you get a great beef patty around here north of the city? (or in manhattan for that matter… but I’ll repost there)

Anyhow, here’s my list of places.

Ruth’s (White Plains)
I was tipped off on this place 3 or 4 years ago on this board. Thanks to whoever that was. They have really great jerk chicken and pork (when they have it). Shockingly, their chicken isn’t dried out… very flavorful, with some kick (could be more). Patties are OK (see above). I need to try more there though. I’m a creature of habit.

Top of the Hill (Stamford)
Best Jerk in Stamford… maybe the best in FF county. Ever since they redid the place a few years ago, their food has improved. It’s probably been 8 months since I last went there, so I’m hoping that it remains unchanged. Their jerk has great flavor and great kick. Long live the scotch bonnet.

Caribbean Market (Stamford)
This used to be the best jerk anywhere around… until about 4 years ago. Not sure what happened, but it never recovered. I still wish I could get the jerk pork like they used to serve… it was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten in CT in the 8 years I’ve been here. Now their jerk is just OK (only chicken and fish, I believe). However, I do still really like their goat curry. Highlighy recommended. Plus, I’ve liked their patties better than Top of the Hill… and you can get them with coco bread.

Jeff’s Southern Cuisine (Norwalk)
This is a actually a southern BBQ place. But I don’t like their BBQ there much at all. However, he does a really good jerk chicken. It’s cooked in their smoker (I’m presuming since it has a nice smokiness to it) and the jerk rub is very good. It’s a dry rub and it makes the chicken.

So, that’s my list. I’ve tried a few others too (e.g., Scotty’s in Stamford), but these are my places. But what about yours? What am I missing? Where else should I try? And… if course… where can I get a GREAT beef patty?

  • K & S Top of the Hill
    114 W Broad St Stamford CT
  • Brown’s Caribbean Market
    135 W Main St Stamford CT
  • Ruth’s Jamaican Hot & Cold Deli
    255 Battle Ave White Plains NY
  • Jeff’s Cuisine
    54 N Main St Norwalk CT

[Originally posted on Chowhound]


New in Port Chester: Brazileirinho Café

I was heading to lunch elsewhere in Port Chester today, but when I saw that the old Los Paisanos place was now gone and in its place was a new, bright little brazilian place, I slammed on my brakes, made an illegal u-turn and headed there for lunch (thank me later for sacrificing my life on a rainy afternoon for the sake of my chowhound friends…).

The place does a good little lunch buffet for $3.99 a pound. The buffet is about 10 feet long, with about 4 or 5 different salads, about 4 entree type dishes, and the standard, rice, beans and soups.

I got some good roast pork, a nice herb-y cabbage salad, rice, beans (pinto, not black), pork, some pasta, chicken, etc. I tried to sample as much as I could. The best way I’d describe this is brazilian comfort food. It was nice, homey food that was very satisfying for lunch. Plus, my dinner, plus a can of guarana was less than $6.

The pork had great flavor, if a bit overcooked. The chicken was very good. The beans, sprinkled with farofa, was earthy and comforting – perfect for the cold, rainy day.

They didn’t have feijoada, but they said that they make it on Saturdays.

Anyhow, it’s a nice little place. I wouldn’t call it a destination place, by any means, but nice brazilian comfort food akin to what you find at Brasil Cafe on Main. I haven’t been there in quite some time, but it would be worthwhile to do a side by side compare…

Hmm. That’s a good idea. I think I have my marching orders for the coming week…

Brazileirinho Cafe Restaurant
118 Westchester Ave., Port Chester, NY 10573

[originally published on Chowhound]