Fauzia's Heavenly Delights
Fauzia Abdur-Rahman, a 2008 Vendy finalist, has been serving food on the same corner of 161st and Sheridan for 15 years. However, she’s not your typical vendor: everything is made fresh daily. Her only constant offerings are grilled chicken and fish, rice and beans, and a mixed vegetable dish. The grilled fish, cooked with rice and vegetables, has a strong aquatic flavor with a smoky hint. Moist and sweat-inducing, her jerk chicken (Mon/Fri), with notes of ginger, is excellent. Vegetarian offerings include the refreshing stir-fried mock chicken (Tues/Fri), tofu cooked in a sweet chili sauce. Main dishes (sm. $6, md. $7, lg. $8) come with two vegetable sides. Options include collard greens and hearty lentils and spinach spiced with turmeric and chili powder. When temperatures climb into the 90s, she introduces a cold food menu. In addition to lemonades and sorrel during the summer she serves a spicy ginger tea ($1.50). For seriously searing heat, ask about her homemade hot sauce (not red sauce)--but beware.
Banana Pudding from Fauzia's
Whatever you do, don’t pass up on Fauzia's banana pudding (Wed/Fri, $2.75). More than any other dish, it lives up to the lofty "Heavenly Delights" moniker. The smooth pudding is full of slices of fresh, soft banana and crunchy Nilla wafers. It's hard not to come back for more, and multiple servings are encouraged.
Bate African and American Food
Although Bate looks like an unbecoming and cheaply constructed tiki bar, the food is impressive. Try the fried tilapia ($13), the skin cooked to a supreme crisp. Served with a fresh tomato, onion and cucumber salad tossed in vinaigrette and reminiscent of Mediterranean cuisine, the fish is light and not spicy—that is, until you add some of the potent, dry-burn inducing relish referred to simply as pepper (but pronounced more like “peppe”). A side of golden plantains ($5) is a tasty addition.
The guinea fowl ($15), traditionally eaten with starchy acheke ($5), shredded cassava root that has been dried and steamed, is also good. While the breast meat is a little dry the gamier legs are more flavorful. Use the provided mustard pepper relish to add dynamic heat. To flavor the bland acheke, mix in the shredded habanero and super-salty Magi bouillon cubes with the same fresh, oily salad. And instead of a canned beverage, get one of two homemade ginger juices ($2) each made with sugar, vanilla, and spring water. The yellow juice is refreshing, with a pleasant vanilla flavor and a strong, spicy ginger kick towards the end. Shake well.
860 Melrose Avenue, Bronx NY 10451 (map); 718-401-2283
The Feeding Tree
Relatively well known, The Feeding Tree is a relaxed West Indian joint. While it lacks atmosphere, the food is quite good. For appetizers, try the jerk shrimp ($6.50). The shrimp are juicy and the sauce succulent, even if the heat is lacking. For entrees, the curried goat ($8.25), sufficiently spicy, is the best option. The meat is unusually tender and the buttery stew great for soaking up rice. Disappointingly, the jerk chicken ($8.25) lacks flavor and any trace of heat. The beef stew ($8.25), with soft strips of onion soaked in sauce, was pretty straightforward; the ox-tail ($10.50), though, was more exciting. Most of the pieces were fatty and juicy, but a few were tender. Each entrée (for more variety ask for half-portions) is served with a cabbage-based salad, a fried plantain, rice and beans, and cornbread. Get a bottle of zesty ginger beer ($1.50) to wash it all down.
892 Gerard Ave, Bronx NY 10452 (map); 718-293-5025
Situated beneath the rattling 4 train is Justine, a Dominican restaurant with Puerto Rican options. The inside looks a lot like a local diner, except that they may be blasting Latin club music. Their very good roast chicken ($4.00 for a half, $7.50 for a whole), though, is worth the ambiance. The meat is moist and the golden skin extra crispy. The vinegar sauce provided on the side is rendered unnecessary by the flavor of the chicken alone. The fried pork chunks ($3.75 for ½ pound, $7.50 for a pound) are fatty and delicious, albeit a bit salty—unless they're dipped in the comforting bean soup accompaniment. Each layer has its own dynamic: seriously crunchy skin, juicy fat and flavorful meat. For something lighter on the side there is queso mofongo ($7.00). Though a bit dry, it’s a nice break from the heavier, oilier pork and chicken.
28 E. 167th Street, Bronx NY 10452 (map); 718-538-2100
Like other Ghanaian eateries, the inside of Eye Adom, hidden by drawn shades, looks a lot like a cafeteria. The menu helps diners find their way with photos that are helpful for those unfamiliar with Ghanaian food. Their fufu with goat ($10) is solid; spicy and earthy, the stew is vibrantly orange. Served in large chunks, most on the bone, the meat, with slabs of fat, is dark and gamey. Tear off chunks of the starchy fufu—mashed cassava and unripe plantains—and dip them in the stew. The fufu is also available with chicken, okra, fried tilapia, and spinach-based abunabuna soup with snail and crab ($12). Red Red ($9), usually available starting at 1 p.m., is a very satisfying bean stew, cooked in oil turned red by spices, and served with fried, sweet plantains and fried fish. For added heat, ask for pepper relish (known in Ghana as shito or shitor din): the smoky, smoother black and/or the chunkier red, which has a stronger tomato flavor. Get a bottle of zesty Limogen ($2.50), a West African ginger-and-lime drink, to go with your meal.
1263 Edward L Grant Hwy, Bronx NY 10452 (map); 718-293-7700
Serving decent neighborhood Mexican, Mi Pueblita will satisfy a craving. The obligatory post-order chips were clearly store-bought, but the dark salsa verde they came with—also provided in a larger bowl with the entrees—was excellent. In addition to pollo en mole poblano ($8.95), the restaurant serves dobladas de mole ($8.50)—the boiled chicken is plain but not dry and the thin sauce is somewhat rich and spicy. Tacos ($2.00-$3.00) are served on moist tortillas with ample amounts of minced onion and fresh cilantro. The goat (tasty if somewhat oily), chorizo (flavorful but not at all spicy), and juicy carnitas are all good options. Best of all is the torta with ham ($5.00), served with pickled jalapenos and carrots that add a sour kick. The avocado is creamy and fresh, but the bread could have been toasted for longer. All of the dishes, however, needed a pinch or two more of salt.
111 East 167th Street, Bronx NY 10452 (map); 718-588-4023
For pre-game drinks with ambiance, Z’Novia is the best option. Dim lighting and cool colors give it a hip vibe otherwise absent from the neighborhood. In addition to a happy hour (Tuesday-Friday) they have plans for game-day specials. However, their grub, a healthy take on soul food, is of mixed quality. If you’re going to an early afternoon game, it’s the buffet ($12.50) or bust. The offerings, ranging from fried chicken to corn-on-the-cob, rotate daily but are hit-or-miss. The curried chicken smelled pungent but tasted bland; the peppery baked chicken, though, was more flavorful. Skip brunch and wait for dinner. Though hardly unique, the fried chicken ($12.50) tasted good and was less oily than other versions I’d had. Each main dish comes with two sides (at $3.50 separately). The tangy collard greens, cooked in turkey drippings, were the highlight of the meal. While the mac & cheese was salty during brunch, it was improved at dinner, even if the cheese was, at times, a bit stiff.