Ouest chef-owner Tom Valenti is certainly one of New York's greatest chefs, but he also truly loves to eat, and he really enjoys exploring food in his Upper Broadway-Riverside Drive neighborhood known as Sugar Hill. Sugar Hill is south of the rapidly gentrifying Washington Heights, and serious eaters should know it's definitely worthy a trip, especially if you you are fond of Cuban sandwiches, roast pork, and fried chicken. Valenti takes Time Out New York on a food tour of his neighborhood, which most non-Spanish-speaking New Yorkers never venture to.
His stops included:
New Caporal, a great Dominican fried chicken take-out place where I have bought many a thigh and drumstick after visiting someone at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital . There's no place to eat at New Caporal (in fact you pass your money under a bulletproof panel, but that just means that either you'll be eating chicken all the way home in the cab or car, or you'll be wandering down Broadway chicken in hand enjoying a slightly greasy but oh-so-satisfying stroll. 3772 Broadway, New York NY 10032 (b/n 156th and 157 streets); 212-862-8986
La Fiesta Restaurante is Valenti's spot for inexpensive rotisseried chicken and flavorful Latin-tinged goat or oxtail soups that come with lime wedges, cilantro, and chopped onions as condiments. I don't know that I have ever been there, but now that Valenti's tipped me off I will be going shortly. 3797 Broadway, New York NY 10032 (b/n 157th and 158th streets); 212-281-2886
Valenti goes to Estrella Bakery for his Cubano and washes it down with a batido, a fruit shake made with evaporated milk. 3861 Broadway, New York NY 10032 (at 161st Street); 212-795-5000
Sugar Hill is definitely worth a weekend excursion. Make sure you wander down to Riverside Drive and check out the gorgeous pre-war apartment buildings. The one Tom and his wife live in was home to jazz great Sonny Rollins for many years. Now that's cool. And if you're looking for a Sunday brunch spot you could do a lot worse than Ouest, which is one of the few unhurried, uncrowded great brunch spots in New York.
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