With Latin Food This Good, La Strada Doesn’t Need to Serve Pizza

********************THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED******************

Latin food is one thing that Midtown has in great abundance, and for the most part your work location will determine where you eat.  No sense in trekking all the way cross town if you work next door to Margon or Cafe Cello, and there are now 3 Midtown locations of Sophie’s Cuban, with a fourth opening soon.  If you work in the north east part of Midtown, then your go-to Latin place is La Strada, Spanish Food & Pizzeria.

It’s set up the way most of these places are set up.  The food is out on steam tables and $6 to $7 buys you one meat, and two sides.  The menu changes every day, but usually it’s all the regulars… roast pork, roasted chicken, steak, chicharones, pork chops, oxtails on special days, and more.  Rice, beans and fried plantains are the requisite side dishes, and although “Pizza” is the first thing listed on the sign outside, the guy who served me said they haven’t sold a pizza in forever.  Pretty awesome.

What I got, latin food porn, and the +/- after the jump…

I normally go for the pernil at places like this, but I was looking to switch it up… plus the roast pork didn’t look as good as some of the other things.  I ended up going with the pork chops, which were pretty thick and covered in grilled onions (the way all meat should come at a latin food place!).  You’re only allowed two side dishes, so I asked for morros (the mixture of rice and beans)- so I could get rice, beans and plantains, and only have it count as two sides.  The guy serving me said they didn’t have any, but he didn’t mind giving me rice, beans and plantains.  On the menu it says I should have been charged an extra 50 cents, but I don’t think they charged me, although I can’t be positive- so proceed at your own risk.

Lunch @ La Strada, Midtown, NYC
Click on the photo for a breakdown.

The pork chop was not surprisingly a little dry (most steam table meat is), but the taste was delicious.  And while I prefer white rice and black beans (straight up Cuban, baby!), La Strada serves yellow rice and pinto beans, which I enjoyed.  The day I was there, the maduros were some of the best I’ve had in Midtown.  The trick to sweet fried plantains is to let them get over ripe, so when you fry them they are soft and mushy on the inside, carmelized on the outside, and super sweet all the way through.  The quality of your maduros will always depend on how ripe your plantains are.  I don’t know if La Strada does them right every day, but on the day I was there, they were perfect.  At Margon & Cafe Cello, it’s always a toss up, and most of the time they aren’t as ripe as they could be.

Finished with a Watermelon Jarritos, it was a near perfect lunch.  I don’t know how anything else is at La Strada, so I will let the pictures speak for themselves…

Sure, it’s not as sanitized as a chain like Sophie’s, and it lacks the authentic Miami feel of a place like Margon.  It’s small and dirty, and not all that inviting… but sometimes, those are the best places!


  • Great Latin food, very cheap
  • Perfect if you are looking for Latin in the NE part of Midtown
  • Maduros were perfect on the day I was there
  • They have watermelon jarritos!


  • It’s small and dirty
  • Some of the food isn’t as good as Sophie’s or Margon
  • The pork chop was a little on the dry side
  • There’s no pizza!  I was looking for pizza!

La Strada, 131 E. 56th St. (btw. Park+Lex*) 212-759-0059

*North side of the street, closer to Lexington


  • Darn. It looks good but a bit of a schlep from my office :(

  • Can you talk more about this jarritos thing? It looks interesting and yummy… never seen it before tho!
    PS Does anyone ever look at you funny for taking pictures of the steam trays? Does anyone ever run up to you and scream OH MY GOD YOU MUST BE ZACH? That’d be so hot, hehe.

  • Jarritos is a mexican soda, made from sugar cane instead of corn syrup, available in many hispanic joints around.

    This place is right around the corner from my office and the only time i went in i wanted pizza.

  • Crapistan! I wanted to go get pork chops but it seemed far from my cage. Just Goomapped it and it is A FREAKING MILE from here to there.

    Just thought I’d share.

  • Zach just Shouts ‘IMMIGRATION!!’ and all the staff and management run out the back door.

  • La Strada is indeed dirty, but it embraces its dirtyness, which I prefer. If you look carefully, you can see behind the curtain into the kitchen, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Another tip–go for the homemade green salsa (in the refrigerator case). It is provided for no extra charge, but only the regulars know it is hands down better than the red sauce in the basket by the register. I’ve been to LaStrada at least 30 times and never seen anyone having a slice of pizza.

  • My old job was near La Strada, and boy do I miss it. I went there once a week. The pernil (roast shredded pork) is fantastic. The stewed chicken is tasty. And the flan is top notch. And the guys there are really nice; they’ll give you extra sides if you want, or mix up a few things.

  • Rudy McBagle, working a little blue today huh?

    la Strada is one on my favorites in the area. I tried Sophies Cuban, but it doesn’t satisfy me the way Strada does.

    Good tip about the homemade green hot sause, better and no extra money.

    If they have the roasted BBQ chicken the day you go I would pick it up. For some reason they only have it there about twice a week and there is no set days.

  • Check out Utopia Cafe on W56 between 5/6Av, middle of the block on the south side, across from Sophie’s. It’s less crowded, cheaper, cleaner and friendlier. They’re Puerto Rican and Dominican rather than Cuban, so they have rice with gandules and dishes like sancocho (which rocks), along with pernil and oxtail and the other usual suspects.

  • Agreed. Amazing maduros. And the green sauce enhances everything. Super bang for the buck.

  • off lex towards park..

  • A Colombian colleague and I went to La Strada recently and he was delighted at having found authentic Peruvian food so close to our office. I’d been once before with my wife and had the stewed chicken, but this time I had the stewed tripe (callos). It was absolutely delicious. The tripe wasn’t at all tough or gooey or sticky, as it can be, it was perfectly done, retaining enough of it’s fibrousness to have a pleasant toothsomeness.

    And, most recently, I went there today and had the stewed oxtail. It was good and tasty but the stew sauce didn’t have much oxtail flavor, sadly, nothing like as good as this Spanish oxtail recipe.

  • DID THIS PLACE CLOSE? The other day it was totally shut!

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