My Best Bronx Meal of the Year At Neerob, Featuring A Legendary Banana Kofta
While you cannot walk in and just get banana kofta any day (if you need your wedding catered, though...), the everyday food here is considered by many to be the city’s best Bangladeshi. The digs are low brow, sure, but they are imbued with the same sense of love that flavors the restaurant’s food. Speaking of that banana kofta: it was one of the best things I ate this year, on the level of Torrisi’s beef and broccoli spin of pickled chanterelle, carpaccio, and broccoli fried with a tempura batter. Blindfolded, you would be hard pressed to believe Rahman’s did not contain meat. It is that savory.
Neerob: 2109 Starling Avenue, The Bronx, NY 10462 (a href="https://maps.google.com/maps?q=neerob&hl=en&client=safari&oe=UTF-8&hq=neerob&t=m&z=15">map); 718-904-7061; neerob.com
The 6 Train!
If you have not spent some time chomping along the 6, it is high time. The food's only getting better.
The Elusive Fresh Cotechino
Vincent’s was my first butcher. I still return when I am around, mostly to buy sausage. Their fresh sausage is a treat, but it’s the cotechino that you should be after this time of year. The fatty pork sausage with pulverized pork rind is rare in the United States; all the more so for raw versions. Most of what you will find is imported, pre-cooked, and preserved. Woof. But not this cotechino, not now and not ever! It's a sausage that is all about emphasizing the dynamic sweetness of pork, bumpered by spices that do not interfere, and it's a member of my very prestigious, very selective “Bronx Eats Sausage Pantheon."
Buy it up quick! Cotechino is traditionally cooked on New Year’s Day, and the good stuff will vanish shortly after the holiday. Go, now!
Vincent's Meat Market: 2374 Arthur Avenue, The Bronx, NY 10458 (map); 718-295-9048
New York's Best Tamales? It Says More Than You Might Think
While almost every New York tamal I had tasted before was dry and mealy, these not only have excellently moist masa, but fillings that are actually worth digging into: intense sauces with lively meat. When presented with a steaming-hot tamal, freshly fished out of the cauldron, you might wonder why there are not candles that smell like this. Someone could make some real cash money, people.
Oh, and on Sunday, they go all out: offering steamed goat (prepared in the style of barbacoa, but they refuse to call it such—a good sign) and a zesty, gamey, delicious consomme de chivo.
Tamales Ebeneezer: Across from 353 East 138th Street, The Bronx, NY 10454 (map); Personal number for orders upon request
A South Bronx Sandwich Hack
Veal Jerky at European Meat Markets
Nibble this jerky on the subway, sure, but save some for later. Take your time, instead, to admire the gorgeous color—a scarlet straight off a sunset—and its smooth, marbled texture. The flavor is all salt and smoke, “so strong as to remind you of nights spent around the fire pit.” Eat with plenty of pilsner or pale ale.
European Meat Markets: 720 Lydig Avenue, The Bronx, NY 10462 (map); 718-741-9100
The City's Only Weekly Garifuna Cooking
What the Garinagu Grillers offer is a simplified plato tipico, and the food is as much a gathering place for the community as anything else. Here you have a rare chance to make a friend who can cook you dharasa, a kind of Garifunan tamal made of green plantains. Bonus points: the southern grill pickles their onions to a bright orange color. How do they do this? There’s even a hint of citrus!
Garinagu Grillers: Between 175th and 176th Streets on Southern Boulevard, The Bronx, NY 10454 (map); weekends only
Trends To Follow: Hispanic Diversification, Bangladeshi Enclaves, Cambodian Food?
There has also been an uptick in the Bangladeshi population, which found its first Bronx home in Parkchester. The community’s commercial hub is located on Starling Avenue, dubbed Banglabazaar for good reason. A second enclave has been fomenting up in leafy Norwood, too, a cause for excitement and anticipation. The borough shows no signs of slowing down; but can we finally get that Cambodian restaurant we have all been asking for, please?