Seeing as Brooklyn is a borough largely settled by immigrants, you’d be hard pressed to find a neighborhood that doesn’t boast a pocket of exotic, affordable, and seriously delicious eats. And Sunset Park is especially rich in multicultural influence; you’ll find a bustling Chinatown (currently the largest in New York) (centralized along 8th avenue from 42nd to 68th street), and a vibrant Hispanic population west of 5th avenue. And while you can easily spend a weekend feasting your way through various dim sum palaces, dumpling stands and noodle shops, we’re focusing on the culinary imprint made by Sunset Park’s Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican and Ecuadorian communities. So here’s where to find a few of Brooklyn’s best Tacos, Cemitas, Huaraches, Agua Frescas and more!
Ceviche at El Tesoro Ecuatoriano: This family-style, Ecuadorian eatery places delicious emphasis on seafood, both cooked (try the Fried Porgy, Fish smothered with an addictive Salsa Verde, or peanut-dusted Shrimp Soup thickened with yucca), as well as raw, showcased in a variety of chilled, citrus-marinated Ceviches. Fresh octopus, snappy shrimp, flaky fish, or chewy, black shelled conch are tossed in a flavorful bath of lime juice, verdant cilantro and thinly sliced red onion, and served with a dish of Aji (a spicy tomato and pepper-based sauce) for dipping.
Antojitos at Jugueria & Taqueria el Comal: Translated to “little cravings,” Antojitos are popular Mexican street foods typically made with masa, like tamales, quesadillas, tacos, sopes and huaraches. We love all of the hand-patted snacks at this spacious Sunset Park lunch counter, like the potato-filled Flautas (rolled tortillas), chorizo-studded Picaditos (oblong masa discs), and diminutive, bowl-shaped Sopes, ladled with “flags” of red and green sauce. And don’t forget to try one of their fruity Agua Frescas, water flavored with berries, melon, or tamarind.
Tacos at Ricos Tacos: While many spots on the 5th avenue strip are determinedly nondescript (from the outside at least), it’s hard to miss Ricos, with its eye-catching, hand painted sign of a smiling pig in a pot. You’ll be in brighter spirits than the comically unaware pig once you try the taqueria’s myriad, porky offerings, especially the Corn Tortillas piled high with marinated Al Pastor, juicy Sausage, fried Carnitas or crispy Pork Skin, and strewn with green onion, cilantro, sliced radishes and fresh lime.
Cemitas at El Tenampa: You’ll find delectable Tortas (Mexican sandwiches) on most menus in Sunset Park, but why not up the ante and search for Cemitas, sandwiches of truly epic proportions, generally comprised of 10 ingredients or more? In fact, you’ll probably want to schedule a separate visit to the area to sample all of the gut-busting versions at El Tenampa, which serves their fluffy rolls stacked with chicken, pork, steak, tongue or tripe, and topped with avocado, crema, red onion, iceberg lettuce, black beans, hot sauce, and white cheese.
Pastries at La Gran Via Bakery: Even if you don’t have any room left for dessert, the sweets at this Cuban, family-owned bakery travel and store well. So pack a cardboard box (or two) with all manner of traditional Latin American goodies, like moist Tres Leches Cake, jiggly, caramel-topped Flan, Toasted Coconut Cookies, Cheese and Guava-filled Pastries, and fragrant, freshly baked Breads. This is the real deal.
El Tesoro Ecuatoriano
4015 5th Ave., btwn. 40th & 41st Sts.
Jugueria & Taqueria el Comal
4711 5th Ave., btwn. 46th & 47th Sts.
505 51st St., btwn. 5th & 6th Aves.
706 4th Ave., btwn. 21st & 22nd Sts.
La Gran Via Bakery
4516 5th Ave., btwn. 44th & 45th Sts.