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.
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