“¿Esperando?” the man at the cashier said as I walked in to the café.
I must have had a deer in the headlights look, because he quickly followed it up with a smile and a “Are you waiting for a table or do you want something to go?” My first thought was “He is bilingual.” My second thought was, “This is where seven years of Spanish class has gotten me?!? Why did you not respond!?!”
Welcome to La Taza de Oro. I heard about this Puerto Rican restaurant through a friend and they said that I had to try it because it is “just so authentic.” Well, when I walked in and was greeted in Spanish, I was certainly convinced.
After reading the menu over the counter I decided to order the ropa vieja. In Spanish this means “old clothes.” However, instead of being served a bowl of tattered rags, I was greeted with a hot plate of shredded beef accompanied by a big plate of red beans and yellow rice.
According to the cashier, the name “old clothes” was inspired by the shredded beef’s stringy appearance. Despite the unappetizing name, the dish tasted good. I really enjoyed the feel of the shredded beef in my mouth as it was chewy and tender. The dish was well-seasoned, but could have used a little kick of cayenne or paprika. I know from reading, however, that Puerto Rican food is known to be flavorful, but not spicy.
The rice and beans were good as well. My only complaint was that the rice in some areas was dry and a little clumpy from sitting on the bottom of the pot too long.
Since it takes a while to make a stew or a pot of rice and beans, they make all of the food ahead of time. Because of this, my food was served to me in less than two minutes, which was great because I have a short lunch break at work.
Their menu rotates daily and everyday there is a new special. One of their most popular items is the goat stew, which is a traditional Puerto Rican dish. A highlight of all their meals is that most of them cost around or below $10. My shredded beef, beans and rice cost $8.50.
I don’t know that I would rush back here, but if I was in the area and looking for a filling and cheap meal, I would definitely stop by and maybe try one of their other dishes.
Lastly, with finals just around the corner, if you want to practice your conversational Spanish, this is an excellent place to come.
IF YOU GO
La Taza de Oro
Note: Cash Only
Where: 89 8th Ave., N. Y., NY 10011
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