Smack-dab in the middle of Van Nest’s unofficial Little Arabia is Arth Aljanatain, a surprisingly nicely decorated Yemeni restaurant. An order of fatta with olive oil and honey ($8) will yield a tightly bound mound of browned breadcrumbs. Dry but very rich, the crumbs taste strongly of honey; the dish speaks more of dessert than dinner. For something more savory, get it with meat and sauce ($12). Frothing and bubbling, the fahsa salta ($8)—a linguistic amalgamation of Yemen’s two national dishes—makes a grand enough entrance to provoke cries of “Volcano, volcano!” from seasoned patrons. Cooked with celery, onion, potato, and a little tomato, the well-spiced but mild stew is packed with tender shredded beef. With two giant pieces of crispy flat bread for dipping, it makes for a filling entree. In addition to these and other Yemini dishes, Arth also offers more standardized Middle Eastern fare.
700 Rhinelander Ave, Bronx NY 10468 (map); 718-918-9191
Ebe Ye Yie
A brief bus ride away, Ebe Ye Yie is one of the top West African restaurants in the borough, delivering on earthy, spicy stews flavored with dried fish and loads of plantains. Rice, beans and—yes—spaghetti are all available. But natives favor elastic fufu, mashed yams and cassava; sour banku, steamed plantains; and omo tuo, molded rice balls. Utensils are provided, though Ghanaian food is meant to be eaten with your hands. For the adventurous, thick and earthy egusi or agushu ($10), a soup thickened with the eponymous melon seeds and served here with a lamb’s tender pink head meat, is a great option. Other dishes, like burning, oil-free “light soup” ($11), cooked with chicken from a local live poultry butcher, and peanut butter stew ($10) are friendlier introductions and both best with fufu. Dishes often come with your choice of protein; the best are fried, oily tilapia and fried chicken ($2 on the side) in a stewy bean sauce. At no added cost, shitor din or pepper relish—fishy black and tangy red—will add serious heat; just ask up front. For the full review, click here.
2364 Jerome Ave, Bronx NY 10468 (map); 718-220-1300
Joe’s Italian Deli
Though not the face of Arthur Avenue’s fading Italian heritage, Joe’s is nonetheless the best of the deli bunch. Their Super Hero ($6 for roll, $7 for hero)—ham, soppressata, soft red bell pepper and homemade mozzarella drizzled with oil and vinegar—was good enough to make it onto our roundup of the best sandwiches at or under $6 in New York. High on nostalgia, it’s nothing you haven’t had but, then, that’s not the point. Not as good but still tasty is the eggplant alla pomadori ($5.50 for a roll, $6.50 for a hero): fried eggplant, tomato, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. While the tomato was watery, the eggplant was moist, crispy and flavorful. Whatever sandwich you decide on, get a bottle of locally produced Bronx Pop ($1.50). The best flavors are the retro candy-style cherry and grape, though more adult flavors like root beer and cream soda succeed almost as well.
For burek, a savory pastry of disputable origin, Zoo-goers are lucky enough to have both Arthur Avenue’s Tony and Tina's Pizzeria, a vestige of the area’s Italian past, and Dukagjini Burkatore in Pelham. Layers of crispy phyllo, which get softer and more buttery as you dig deeper in, are filled in with one of several basic, hearty options: spinach, cheese, beef, and, at Tony and Tina’s, pumpkin ($4.00 at each). Both also serve a fresh yogurt ($1.50)—creamier at Dukagjini and more tart at Tony’s—that’s made for dipping. While both are solid options close to their respective entrances, Tony and Tina’s is the preferred destination, thanks in part to the sweet and sticky pureed pumpkin, the clear favorite here at Serious Eats. Bigger servings and fresher tasting phyllo at Tony’s seals the deal, though their cheese burek proves too salty; at Dukagjini it’s much less so and hits the spot just right.
2483 Arthur Avenue, Bronx NY 10458 (map) ; 718-733-8094
758 Lydig Avenue, Bronx NY 10462 (map)
Estrellita Poblana III
Another sign of changing times, Estrellita Poblana III satisfies a growing population’s need for affordable Mexican fare. In addition to a number of good weekend specials, the restaurant’s menu includes fantastic cemitas ($6.50) and solid tortas ($5.50). Served on an airy egg roll, the former, creamy from the avocado and spicy from the chipotle beans, is worth writing home about. Go the traditional route and get yours with steak Milanese, thin breaded strips of beef. In addition to these sandwiches, they have a flavorful mole poblano with chicken ($12). High on chocolate, the sauce is a spicy affair and perfect for slathering over warm tortillas. Although standard, both the tacos ($2) and the sopes ($1.75-2.50) are well executed. The best meats available are chorizo, cow tongue and salted steak; for condiments, stick to the salsa verde. On sweltering summer days, both the papaya and strawberry batida ($3.00) are seriously refreshing, striking an appropriate balance between their dairy’s richness and the vibrancy of the fruit.
2328 Arthur Ave # 5, Bronx NY 10458 (map); 718-220-7621
Feroza’s Roti Restaurant
Though seats are lacking, Feroza’s Roti Restaurant is worth the sidetracking it requires. After picking up your sandwich, hop on the subway or bus, both mere steps away, and chow down in nearby Zoo-neighbor Pelham Parkway, two stops away on the 2/5 lines. Both the curried chicken and, in particular, the goat are excellent, but the shrimp (all $8.00) isn’t quite at the same level. Bought frozen, the shrimp lacked flavor. The ever-so-slightly spicy goat, however, was as tender as could be and lacked the meat’s distinctive gaminess. Just don’t be selfish and share—a single one of these massive sandwiches could prove too heavy and weigh you down on a hot day filled with snakes and chimpanzees. For something less filling, order a few of their sharp-burning doubles ($1.50)' the only complaint being that the dora bread gets a little soggy on the underside. Their rendition of a sweet and spicy chickpea curry, with little bits of onion and potato popping up, is surprisingly light and perfect for a quick pit stop.
716 Burke Avenue, Bronx NY 10467 (map); 718-405-9081
Three Boys From Italy
For your slice fix, there’s Full Moon, a pretty good neighborhood joint, over in Fordham-Belmont. But if you’re coming from another direction then Three Boys From Italy isn’t a bad alternative. A few stores down from Feroza’s Roti, the Boys offer a short roster of slices as well the standard pizzeria fare. The plain slice ($2.40), a Bronx jumbo, sports a nice balance between the acidity of the tomato and the cheese’s creaminess. A little thicker than your standard NY slice, the end crust is chewy and crunchy. Though adequate for a neighborhood pizzeria, the Sicilian ($2.50) is more of a mixed bag. While the crust is crispy, the cheese, though moist, is too thick and not cooked quite long enough.
704 Burke Avenue, Bronx NY 10467 (map); 718-882-2009
La Parilla Latina Steakhouse
Just south of the Fordham Metro North station on Webster Avenue is La Parilla Latina Steakhouse. Avoid the generic options like Italian pasta, breakfast sandwiches and hamburgers in favor of dishes more representation of the Latino ownership. Aside from a number of different mofongo ($6.50-24.95), with options ranging chicken to octopus, Parilla serves a pretty decent roast pork sandwich ($4.95). Served on a golden, crisped bread toasted lightly with butter, the shredded pork is a little oily and great when dipped in the heavily seasoned bean soup. The darker bits, juicier and heavy on black pepper, offer the best bites. Off the daily specials menu, there’s the stewed eggplant with rice and beans ($5.95, $6.50, $10.95). Not all of the eggplant is cooked down to a mash: large, soft chunks are abundant throughout. The dish mixed well the drier rice, which soaks up some of the excess liquid, and tastes pleasantly simple. A few drops of Tabasco sauce here and there go a long way.
2501 Webster Avenue, Bronx NY 10458 (map); 718-329-3000
A little further down the street waits Three Way, a Dominican joint that specializes in roast chicken and serves an array of rotating soups. Don’t go here if you’re looking out for your waistline: soups aside, the fried and roasted stuff are where it's at. For a side, try an order of fried plantains ($2 for a small). Golden brown, they ooze juices at the press of a fork. Their sweetness offers a nice break from the savory meats the restaurant specializes in. An order of roast chicken with rice and beans ($4.95 for ¼, $6.50 for ½ , $8.90 for whole) is a great companion. Dip the blander, whiter meat in the sweet red bean soup; pour the rest over the mildly flavored rice. Though perfectly fried, the black-pepper speckled skin can get a bit salty. This isn’t the case, however, for the heavily seasoned, darker wing meat. Much fattier, the fried pork belly chunks ($8.95 with rice and beans) are a decadent, oily pleasure. Snapping under the pressure of your bite, the crunchy skin offers a great contrast to the succulent fat.
384 East 188th, Bronx NY 10458 (map); 718-295-9595