8 Great Puerto Rican Restaurants In NYCOur favorites spots for mofongo, tostones, and lots of chicharrón.
Here’s a quick history lesson because knowledge is cool: After the second World War, a wave of Puerto Ricans moved to New York City, which still has the largest population of Puertorriqueños in the United States. East Harlem transformed into El Barrio, and settlements further downtown became "Loisaida," a Nuyorican pronunciation of Lower East Side.
Today, you'll find a lot of great spots serving mofongo, chicarròn, and other incredible cocina criolla dishes spread out around NYC. For guava-filled empanadillas and crunchy sandwiches that will help you hit your ham and pernil quotas for the week, check out these Puerto Rican restaurants.
Endorsed by both Fat Joe and Rosario Dawson, Casa Adela is pretty much synonymous with NYC Puerto Rican food. The beloved neighborhood spot, founded in 1976 by the late Adela Vargas, is a great place to bring a few friends for tostones, mofongo, and chicharrón de pollo with rice and beans. This Alphabet City restaurant now has some outdoor seating, which is hard to miss with the Puerto Rican flag emblazoned corner to corner, but, as per tradition, it’s still cash-only.
Spanish Harlem is one of the Puerto Rican epicenters of New York, and La Fonda Boricua has been one of its most recognizable restaurants for the past 25 years. Start with the tail-on shrimp mofongo, which comes with plátanos in garlicky salsa de ajo or salsa tomate. Classics like pernil and pollo guisado are also good, but definitely try the chuleta kan kan too, a cut of pork first created in Puerto Rico in 1957. It’s a bone-in loin chop, with a bit of the belly and skin still attached, roasted and finished in a deep fryer. This place is also a destination for live Latin jazz bands and flamenco dancers.
This East Harlem institution on 116th (with a second location at 188th) is another icon. During the ’60s, owner Jose Coto Sr. came to New York City with his family from Cuba and opened the restaurant in response to the demand from newly immigrated Puerto Ricans looking for home-cooked food. In addition to the requisite mofongo and rice and beans, get the restaurant’s namesake plate, which comes equipped with pig ear, pork tongue, banana, and blood sausage.
Thanks to its rainbow lights and salsa music, Sofrito feels a bit like a nightclub. This party restaurant in the Heights is great for a buzzy birthday or boozy brunch, although you should know most entrees range from $25-$40. To fuel yourself for the inevitable dance session, load up on the alcapurrias, empanadas, pernil, and churrasco. Definitely make a reservation and see if you can get a table with a view of the George Washington Bridge.
Hit up the Langston Hughes House on 127th Street, then grab lunch at this tiny counter-service spot that’s been around for over 30 years. Beneath the neon sign that spells its name with an upside-down pig, you’ll spot roast pork, sausage, and cuchifrito hanging in the window. Inside, you’ll find all the straightforward Puerto Rican classics: stewed bacalao, rellenos de papa, pollo rostizado, pastelillos, and morcilla. The go-tos here are the roast chicken and lechón with crackly skin.
Home to some of the best pasteles in the city, The Freakin Rican started as a Puerto Rican food truck, but now has a casual, beachy, brick-and-mortar location in Astoria. Add a plate of mofongo to your order of pasteles, and follow that with some tembleque and a Coco Rico soda. And if you feel like trying your hand at some Puerto Rican recipes, The Freaking Rican also sells homemade sofrito, so you don’t have to try to replicate the all-important mix of herbs and spices at home.
Cuchifritos will obviously be part of your order at this Williamsburg restaurant. Located under the elevated M train’s Flushing station, La Isla Cuchifritos has been around since 1960, and it’s a great place to stop for fried pork, ears, tongue, and sweet plantain. You should also try the rotisserie chicken, which you can enjoy sitting on a stool at the restaurant’s blue counter.
Out of the little space in Gowanus that used to house My Cuban Spot, Kiosko 787 is serving crispy empanadillas, arroz mamposteao, and dense rellenos de papa stuffed with picadillo. Inspired by the street food kiosks of Piñones and Luquillo Beach, this place also makes a solid Cubano stuffed with big fistfuls of roasted pork, as well as a few other sandwiches like a tripleta and a grilled cheese on pressed pan de agua. The operation is takeout-only, but there are a few chairs and folding tables out front where you can hang out and eat your pernil.