El Papasito Has Crispy Pork Skin Worth Traveling Out of Bounds For
I know that most of you already know this, but sometimes it bears repeating for the new folks. There are official ML boundaries that I do my best to stick to. 3rd Ave. on the East, 8th Ave. on the West. 32nd Street to the South, and Central Park South to the North. I know a lot of you work outside those boundaries, but if I expand to 30th Street, then what about 28th? And then from there, it’s only another 2 blocks to 26th. In other words, you’ve got to have limits.
Occasionally, though, something amazing will come to my attention that excites me enough to cross those imaginary Midtown Lunch lines. And those places we refer to as being “Out of Bounds”. There are plenty of cheap Dominican/Cuban/Latin food options in Midtown, but none of them have what Papasito has (on 53rd btw. 8+9th). A $6 lunch special.
For me, paying only $6 for a heaping plate of Dominican food makes it worth the extra bit of walking. (Especially with Margon and Sophie’s Cuban costing $8+) But if the price isn’t enough for you, I discovered an extra little bit of incentive.
$6 gets you rice and beans, morros (rice/beans already mixed), or rice and peas plus one meat and fried plantains. The choices rotate every day, but you can always count on pernil (roast pork) to be offered- making my selection pretty easy.
As if getting a plate of roast pork for $6 wasn’t enough, I was extra excited to discover a strip of crispy pork skin laid over the top of the platter. You might not get as much food as some of the other places in Midtown, but in some ways it’s the perfect amount of food for $6- and the crispy pork skin just puts it over the top. The roast pork itself was cooked very well, with the perfect amount of greasy fat still attached to keep it from being too dry. The rice and peas though, were a bit dry. I’d recommend the morros instead (or rice and beans), unless you’re getting one of their stewed options- in which case the gravy will moisten up the rice and peas real well.
In addition to the pernil, you can pretty much always count on them having some kind of baked or stewed chicken, as well as a beef dish (like beef stew or pepper steak.) They also have some more unique specials, like oxtails on Mondays, stewed goat on Tuesdays, Pig’s feet on Wednesdays, and fish and cod on Fridays. There’s also mondongo (tripe soup) every day but Thursday.
The pig’s feet were calling to me so I had to stop by one Wednesday for that as well:
For $6 it wasn’t as good a deal, since what little meat you normally get in pig’s feet had presumably been stewed off into the pot- leaving a scoop of mostly bones and skin. There were a few good bites of collagen and fat (which is what a dish like this is all about), and die hard pig’s feet lovers might find some joy in this cheap $6 plate of food. But for me it wasn’t good enough to lure me away from the roast pork.
Technically the $6 lunch is for take out only, but if the restaurant is empty, and you ask really nicely they *may* let you sit at one of the tables and eat your lunch. But technically the tables are for ordering off the menu from a waiter (which is more expensive, and I’m assuming you get more food.) This would also be a good time to recommend that you order from the options they have behind the counter in the steam table (i.e. the specials of the day.) Lunch’er Debbie (who was the latest person to recommend Papasito to me) warns that if you order sandwiches, or any of the dishes off the menu that need to be made to order- they will take *forever*.
As for the rest of the specials, these were the only two I tried- but you better believe I’ll be back for the tripe soup. I just might wait until it gets a little cooler out.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Good Dominican lunch specials, for only $6! (The deal can’t be beat)
- The roast pork is very good, and they top it off with a strip of crispy pork skin
- Three choices of rice and beans
- They have a lot of daily options
- It’s the perfect amount of food (if you don’t want to feel disgustingly full after)
- They deliver
- Did I mention it’s only $6!?!
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- You don’t get as much food as at Margon or Sophie’s Cuban
- You only get 2 pieces of fried plantain with your $6 special
- You get tons more pork skin at Cafe Cello (on 46th btw. 5+6th)
- If you don’t order a special, it takes forever
- There’s plenty of great latin food in Midtown. I don’t need to walk the extra distance just save $2
- The pig’s feet didn’t have enough of the good stuff (meat, fat/collagen). Just bone and skin.
El Papasito, 346 W. 53rd St. (btw. 8+9th), 212-265-2225