Cheap eats don't exist inside Yankee Stadium, where you're liable to spend $5 on a Nathan's hot dog and $15 on a prime rib sandwich. Eating outside the Stadium offers a much less costly and international alternative, with options ranging from West African leaf stews to banana pudding and Puerto Rican yucca fritters. But what about a really cheap bite? The snack you'll want if you only want to spend a few bucks? For that, we present you with the chicken and vegetable patties ($2) at Concourse Jamaican Bakery.
I first heard of Concourse Jamaican Bakery on the Chowhound boards a few years back, but only stumbled upon it after sulking away in disappointment upon discovering that one of my favorite places to get Mafe,* the beloved West African peanut sauce or stew, had closed.
*We're talking about Maryway here; when I walked by last Thursday afternoon the new restaurant, Assa, was not open.
In my time, I've found few patties always worth even the pocket change they run for. A nearby spot, across from the former Maryway, puts out some stomach churningly bad stuff, with indeterminately mushy and flavorless fillings.
But at Concourse Jamaican Bakery you'll get a chicken patty enlivened with strips of scotch bonnets, which lend the filling a citrusy kick and necessary zest. The filling is pasty with crumbs of chicken and the occasional larger, solid piece. Texturally, it's much more pleasing than the more uniformly pasty variations I've had elsewhere in the Bronx.
Don't bother with the beef, which tastes unremarkable and is just too soft. Defer instead to the veggie patty, stuffed with cabbage, broccoli, and carrot. The vegetables are not blended into a uniformly soft filling, and the textural contrast—the soft snap of the broccoli and cabbage—offers an immediate appeal. But the lighter, mild and brighter flavor is there, too.
Patties, however, aren't all that they're doing right at Concourse. I tend to shy away from the sweets at Caribbean bakeries, where they exhibit little finesse or style, but you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you followed that stricture here. At least when it comes to their fantastic carrot cake ($2).
Once deemed the best in the city by the Village Voice, Concourse's carrot cake is surprisingly moist and unabashedly spice-forward. What you get is a slice that is none too crumbly, with a firm and flavorful crust (ask for a corner slice) and an attractive, deep color. I've sung the praises of the banana pudding at Fauzia's Heavenly Delights, still my favorite sweet in the neighborhood, but I'm happy to call this carrot cake a solid contender.
A slice of carrot cake and two patties will only set you back $6, and give you two courses to boot. Which leaves plenty of room for beer, both in your belly and in your pocket book.
Concourse Jamaican Bakery
252 East 167th Street, The Bronx, NY 10456 (map) 718-681-4015
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