Where in New York to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Tasca's mixed seafood with fennel in a lobster stock and brandy reduction (Image: Howard Portnoy)

Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins today and runs through Oct. 15, celebrates the rich history and cultural contributions of Hispanic-Americans. What better way to join in the celebration than to dine at one or more of New York’s Hispanic-owned restaurants?

We begin our journey with dessert — or at least with chocolate. That addictive ingredient is all over the menu at Chocobar Cortés, in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx, including the cócteles, among which you will find a ChocoMartini. Dark chocolate is one of the ingredients in the ham croquettes, and a grilled cheese on brioche is smeared with chocolate butter. Even a tossed salad is moistened with a chocolate vinaigrette. Chocobar Cortés, 141 Alexander Ave, The Bronx, 718-841-9310.

Tasca, which opened in 2020, embraces the entire Caribbean and Spain. To represent the diversity of those regions, the house does three takes on empanadas, including a variant done with brisket. An order for codicia de pescado y mariscos will bring you face to face with a fragrant seafood stew made with shrimp, clams and mussels, calamari, and scallop, all knee-deep in a lobster-stock and brandy reduction scented with licoricey fennel. Tasca, 505 Columbus Avenue (bet. 84th and 85th Sts.), 212-362-2211.

The tortillas are made in-house and the mezcal flows freely until 2 a.m. at the Central Mexico-inspired bar and restaurant in Williamsburg called Aldama. Sample the former in the tostada de aguachile rojo, a blend of shrimp, octopus, clamato salsa, onions, chile serrano, avocado served at room temperature. If you can find a partner or are very hungry, order the asado, which here translates to 26 ounces of grilled rib eye accompanied by panela cheese topped with tomatillo chutney and a charred pearl onions demi-glace. Aldama, 91 S. 6th Street, Brooklyn, 929-298-0233.

According to the World Population Review, there are 21 Hispanic countries on the globe. If that’s not enough diversity for you, then head over to Fonda, a Mexican restaurant whose chef and founder, Roberto Santibañez, learned to cook French food from his grandmother and later trained at the Cordon Bleu in Paris. The chef’s culinary background can be detected in such creations as the zarape de pato, braised duck sandwiched between two corn tortillas and blanketed in a DayGlo orange sauce of roasted tomatoes, habaneros, and cream. Fonda has three locations: 139 Duane Street, (917) 261-6950; 189 Ninth Avenue (at 21st St917-525-5252, and 434 Seventh Avenue (bet 14th and 15th Sts), Brooklyn, (718) 369-3144.

The menu of Puerto Viejo, in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, provides a geography lesson on the origins of the name Dominican Republic. It’s interesting but not as compelling as the reading matter on the inside, where you will find, among other enticements, tostones rellenos — little cups fashioned from fried green plantains and piled high with barbecued pulled beef or vegetables. Keep the oxtail stew with white rice and red beans in mind for when the weather turns cold. Puerto Viejo, 564 Grand Avenue (bet. Dean and Bergen Sts), Brooklyn, 718-398-3758.

If you’re interested in trying Mariscos El Submarino but are unfamiliar with Jackson Heights, just keep your eyes peeled for the politically incorrect logo, which features a cartoonish anthropomorphized yellow submarine wearing a bandito mustache. The emphasis of this fast casual restaurant is on seafood, much of it raw. The aguachile, as an example, is a dish of raw shrimp “cooked” by its spicy marinade of chili peppers, lime juice, salt, and cilantro. Mariscos el Submarino, 88-05 Roosevelt Avenue (bet. 88th and 89th Sts.), 718-685-2780.

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