Gurrulos at La Vara
La Vara’s gurrulos ($15) is undoubtedly the least goat-forward dish on our list—hell, the meat is only optional—but we’re leading off with it for that very reason. For first-timers hesitant to take the plunge, it is our recommended introduction to goat in New York. Homemade Murican pasta is poached in milk and served with goat butter, a ring of ground goat, and a liberal dusting of sumac.
The dominant flavor here is that fruity sumac, which comes with a toasted edge and adds necessary brightness. As for the goat? Texturally, it provided the perfect contrast to the polenta-like, melt in your mouth pasta: sautéed, with just little crunch and no chewiness. You won't notice the gaminess if you don't try.
(Full disclaimer: if you don't get the goat, it DOESN'T count!)
The Goat Feast at Bangane
Calling it "the pride of Bangane," the event begins with boiled goat served on the bone, "gloriously primal," that is disassembled into bize-sized portions and served in a chive-lined steamer basket. The meat can be then tucked into lettuce wraps. After two-thirds are finished, the meat is transferred into a bowl of boiling jungol, a spicy stew. The meal is concluded when fresh rice is fried in the remaining jungol. However full your belly, the rice is "too luscious and too fragrant to ignore."
"Patrons who are versed in goat will appreciate the assertively meaty and earthy flavors in this simple preparation," Hansen writes. "I noted with slight regret that such an exultant dining experience is so distant for most city-dwellers—Resto seems to be the only Manhattan restaurant with a large format goat option."
Bangane: 165-19 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, NY 11358 (map); 718-762-2799
Massaman Curry at Kin Shop
In their 2010 review, Kenji and Carey described Harold Dieterle's twist on this traditional Thai Muslim curry ($21) as "rich with shallots, toasted coconut, and dry chili, with braised goat neck that actually melt[s] in the mouth."
"The lightly gamey flavor (close your eyes and it could be lamb) fares surprisingly well against the rich sauce," they wrote. "Before tasting this we wouldn't have believed that braised goat could ever be described as 'vibrant' or 'fresh.'"
Like we said. Goat has versatility.
Cabrito a la Norterna at El Anzuelo Fino
Peruvian restaurant El Anzuelo Fino may specialize in ceviche, but that doesn't mean they aren't doing some fine work on dry land. Take for example their cabrito a la Norterna ($12), braised goat with butter beans. It's a simple dish, the seasoning mostly coriander, but it happens to be one of the most well-cooked pieces of goat I have ever eaten in this city.
Tender but not stringy, the meat falls apart in large triangular chunks and is so moist and juicy that you'll quickly forget those dry messes of curry goat you might have been the victim of. There is, given the lack of goat in my childhood, a surprisingly comforting and homey character to the shank that is reminiscent of mom's uncomplicated pot roasts. On a cold fall day, it just might be our favorite casual goat plate.
Goat Roti at Ali's Trinidadian Roti Shop
Love sandwiches as much as we do? Need your goat on the go? Then might we suggest goat roti, that hulking behemoth of a sandwich that packs as much in flavor as it does in girth.
Options abound in the outer boroughs, but we're partial to Ali's (on Nostrand Avenue; accept no substitutes). There you’ll get smooth roti wrapping a seemingly endless supply of curried goat (warning: bone-in!) and cubes of soft potato. A dose of tamarind chutney is a necessary embellishment (just shout “yes!” to spicy), injecting the curry with a zesty sweetness and amplifying its sharp and lingering heat. And the goat? Meaty and trumpeting the curry spices, it has a friendly gaminess that is still strong enough for goat lovers.
Ali's: 1267 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11216 (map); 718-783-0316
More goat roti:
Feroza's: 716 Burke Ave, Bronx, NY 10467 (map); 718-405-9081
Sybil's: 13217 Liberty Ave, Jamaica, NY 11419 (map); 718-835-9235
Ali's (unrelated): 14220 White Plains Rd, Bronx, NY 10466 (map); 718-655-2178
Goat Tassot at Kombit
I’ve found few goat dishes in New York as fun to eat as tassot ($13.95), a classic Haitian dish of marinated and fried goat chunks. At Kombit, it's served with rice and beans, fried plantains (like tostones), and pikil, a fruity hot sauce that tastes like Yucatan habanero salsa diluted with vinegar.
Bite in and you'll release a burst of intense, punchy flavor as the goat's crusty shell gives way to a soft, plusher interior. Some chunks are a little dry, but that’s nothing a little dunking in sauce can't solve. Dip a piece into the pikil and you'll find goat's answer to buffalo chicken wings. This is bar food of the tastiest sort, not plagued by grease or dumbed down and made for eating alongside buckets of beer. For what it's worth, it shouldn't go without saying that this is one of the few preparations of goat fat—typically offensively odorous—that I not only enjoy, but savor.
Barbacoa at Tacos Morelos
Let’s get this out of the way: you’re never going to get real deal, legit barbacoa in New York, barring some rebel chefs digging pits in Flushing-Meadows or Van Cortlandt parks. That weekend special you’re getting in Jackson Heights or Sunset Park? It's really goat that's steamed until seriously tender, prepared in a manner meant to replicate the barbacoa cooking style. Faithful cooks will layer the meat with maguey, banana, or even avocado leaves.
So with that of the way, we can get behind some of this city’s barbacoa offerings. One of our favorites is tri-borough Cuernacavan giant Tacos Morelos. In a 2011 review of their East Village truck, Kenji deemed the barbacoa ($2.50-7.50) the thing to get. The goat, Kenji wrote, is "tender, moist shreds" that are "relatively mild as far as goat goes, but you might find yourself with a couple of gamey bites here and there."
Tacos Morelos: 94-13 37th Avenue, Jackson Heights, NY 11372 (map); 347-832-0193
Tacos Morelos Cart: Northside of East 2nd Street just past Avenue A, New York, NY 10009 (map)
Tacos Morelos Truck: North 7th Street and Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211 (map)
El Atoradero Bodega: 800 East 149th Street, The Bronx, NY 10455 (map); 718-292-7949; weekends only (call ahead)
Consommé de Chivo at Tamales Ebenezer
Sundays are a goat party at this daily tamales stand in Mott Haven. Come holy day, they break out chili paste-rubbed chivo ($10/lb; what most restaurants call barbacoa), and consommé de chivo ($3-6). Both are prepared according to the style of Guerrero, the state where the family hails from.
Good as the chivo is, the consommé—traditionally made from the drippings of the barbacoa—is where it's at. As I wrote back in November, "clean and full bodied, its savory flavor seems to run deeper than the pot it was cooked in. A squeeze of lime adds a tart spark, the onion and cilantro a welcome crunch. Both are necessary. This is a soup infused with the love and dedication of cooking for years on end, without the thought of a break. Someday this must end; for now, it should be cherished."
Tamales Ebenezer: Across from 353 East 138th Street, Bronx, NY 10454 (map)
Birria at Tacos El Bronco
New York is not yet a strong town for birria de chivo, the brothy soup of goat steamed or stewed with its own broth, tomatoes, and chilies. But the Tacos El Bronco truck's version ($3.50), served in a Greek coffee cup, is worth seeking out.
Max describes the broth as "light with a slight gamey body, a deceptively simple soup that builds up chili, lime, and cinnamon into something electrifying." As for the goat itself, it's "tender and chopped into small chunks, with delicate nubs of fat and tender sinew holding the soft threads of meat together."
Walk past this Sunset Park taco truck and you'll see not just the usual customers, but whole families as well. The tacos and birria here aren't national destinations, but clearly points of pride for the neighborhood.
Tacos El Bronco Truck: 4324 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11232 (map); 718-788-2229; tacoselbronco.com
Seco de Chivo at El Guayaquileno
Those looking for goat flavor that's neither mild nor too aggressive will find their hopes met by El Guayaquileno's seco de chivo ($12; stewed goat). Served in all too shallow but radiant pool of its cooking liquids, the goat is fork-tender and gamey without much adulteration from spices. If you can, ask for the larger pieces only: while still flavorful, the smaller bits can be dry.
Dip a chunk of meat or spoonful of rice into the brilliantly orange liquid, though, and you'll find yourself asking what kind of misanthropic lunatic would restrict such delicious nectar to limited portions. You might wish you were simply served a pitcher of the liquid. We would not protest. Our solution? When ordering, ask for a bowl of the good stuff with your plate of seco de chico. Pay whatever your wait demands—but they didn’t ask us for a cent.
El Guayaquileño: 94-54 Corona Avenue, Corona, NY 11373 (map); 718-760-4982
El Guayaquileño: 95-51 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights, NY 11372 (map)
Gravy from Seco de Chivo
We liked that gravy so damn much, we couldn't contemplate not giving it the spotlight.
These cooking liquids come close to approximating, we believe, the concentrated essence of goat: gamey without the meat's uric funk, deeply rich like a long-tenured pho, sweet like chicken stock, and just plain lip-smacking. Accented by herbs, its flavor is similar—without the kick—to the Guerenesse style consommé de chivo offered on Sunday's at Tamales Ebenezer. Globules of fat float along the surface, harbingers, for the unaccustomed, of delicious things to come. If you're an adventurous eater who is nonetheless still a goat skeptic, a bowl will be all the convincing you'll need. Ladle over rice, dip meat, or simply spoon it solo. Welcome to the promised land.
Goat Lamprie at San Rasa
The best sit-down Sri Lankan restaurant on Staten Island, San Rasa is a destination for much more than goat. But we're here to talk about the goat version of the restaurant's popular lamprie ($12), one of the best dishes to come out of the post-colonial era.
Says Max, "the lamprie arrives at the table in a steaming banana leaf pouch; you unfold it to reveal rice layered with tender goat meat, deeply caramelized plantains and eggplant, and soft bits of cashew. The mildly spiced goat brings out the best in the lamprie, giving moody substance to the sharp eggplant the way beef or chicken couldn't. Any trace of gaminess is carried away with the steam and replaced with the banana leaf's gentle herbaceous aroma."
Kothu Parrota with Mutton at Anjappar
Like a South Asian chilaquiles, Kothu Parotta is a dish of repurposed parotta bread, eggs, meat, and salna (a type of sauce) cooked on a flattop. At Anjaparr, where you can get it with goat ("mutton"), warm spices like coriander give the dish its fragrance. But the base of the sauce comes from tamarind, which provides a sweet if slightly sour foundation—all the better to compliment the sneaky burn that creeps in on you.
The goat here, cut into boneless chunks, is used more to accent the dish than it is to drive it. While bigger chunks may give you a burst of gameiness, the flavor is more meaty and spice-driven. Spoon the gravy over the dish for a burst of soothing richness, and defer to the raita, like coleslaw in yogurt, when you need something bright to relax your mouth. Both come on the side.
Anjappar: 116 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016 (map); 212-265-3663; anjapparusa.com
Goat Curry Thali at Woodside Cafe
There are several ways to get your goat on at this Nepalese restaurant, one of our favorites in a stretch of Queens overflowing with places serving Himalayan cuisine. The standard vehicle of choice would be the thali platter with goat curry ($10; also available as a side for $5). Served in its own gravy, this tender goat’s gamey flavor mingles oh so delightfully with the warm spices and the humming burn of the chilies. We'd say this is a goat dish for those who are mildly experienced, perhaps still priming themselves for the big time. The mustardy pickled daikon radish on the thali help cut the goat's less immediately appealing attributes.
About that gravy the goat comes in: you won't want to let any of it go to waste. Mix it with rice, sip it up by the spoonful, do whatever you'd like. (It's also available for dunking with the rice flour crepe known as chatamari ($6.50-$7.50).)
Curry Goat from Jamaican Dutchy
If you need to eat your curry goat ($9) on the go (or if you're a midtown office worker looking for your first foray into goat), might we suggest the Jamaican Dutchy in Midtown?
Ben, who used to work nearby, says: "[it] can't be beat for a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meal that tastes like it was made with love. Go with the mini meal; it's more than enough for one hungry luncher."
If you're looking for street goat farther downtown, head to Veronica's Kitchen.
Veronica's Kitchen:125 Front Street, New York NY 10005 (map)
Curry Goat at The Islands
Climb the narrow stairs up to the dining room at The Islands (or order takeout if you call Prospect Heights home) and you'll be rewarded with plates of excellent jerk chicken, stewed oxtail, and curry goat that could be called platters elsewhere. The bone-in chunks of goat here offer a slight resistance but fall apart without much need of knifework. The curry sauce is generous, rounded in meatiness but with a savory sharpness of goat not cooked for too long. Use the remaining sauce to moisten the rice and peas, which are densely packed but slicked with coconut oil.
Speaking of generosity, The Islands charges a mere $11 for a small platter of curry goat and $13 for a large. What you see in the photo is a small.
The Islands: 803 Washington Avenue, New York, NY 11238 (map); 718-398-3575
Goat Pepper Soup at Buka
Although goat is employed with abandon in at most West African restaurants, the style of preparation and preferences of patrons seldom highlights the meat itself. Ghanaians and Nigerians in particular prefer chewy cuts; just as often the meat, though served in large chunks, tastes as if it were beside the point. But we’d be letting you down if we didn’t include at least one West African dish.
For those unaccustomed to the fire of habaneros, a foray into goat pepper soup is like listening to My Bloody Valentine on full blast for the first time. The heat comes in relentless waves, and as your lips begin to tingle your throat itches and your breath goes ablaze. The goat is served in chunks, skin on and often curled, and is typically tough and chewy. Those with a soft spot for offal might be inclined to try Festac Grill’s organ-heavy rendition.
Festac Grill: 263 Hendrix Street, Brooklyn, NY 11207 (map); 347-627-5151
Bhutan at Woodside Cafe
We saved the most hardcore for last. Bhutan ($5) is a Newari festival food ("We have 366 festivals, and only 365 days," our server joked) of chopped goat intestines ("bhutan") and slices of liver dressed with mustard oil and the typical Newari spices: Nepalese garam masala (simpler than its Indian cousin), chili powder, and turmeric. The intestines, particularly those cubic bits, have an undeniable butyric funk that may prove too strong for many. But the spices exercises damage control, and the texture is pleasantly and even playfully chewy. The liver was less to our taste, because no matter what you do liver is always going to devolve into a pasty mess in your mouth.
A smaller portion would have been more to our liking, but we can't fault Woodside for serving so much given the dish's origins. That being said, the offal bits themselves were perfectly sized, so you never got too much in one mouthful, and we got to thinking all the nastiest bits should be served accordingly. Like M&Ms, you know.