Flatiron Lunch: Milanes’ Chicharrones and Pernil Make Me Very Happy
Now that Downtown has its very own section of the site, what are we going to post on Fridays? Answer… how about a column devoted to those lunches just south of the ML boundaries. Every week we post about a lunch in Murray Hill south, Gramercy, Flatiron, and everything in between… or to make it easy: Flatiron Lunch.
Latin food has been popping up a lot lately, from the higher end options at Leña Latin Grill (full +/- coming soon!) to that random appearance in the 99-cent pizza store, but what about the old fashioned Latin spots? You know, with the shiny furniture and a staff and clientele that speak more Spanish than English? La Taza de Oro is one of my favorites, but a crazy schlep from the office. Then I found Milanes, just down the block from Johny’s Luncheonette. With everything from Tripe soup to chuletas and a decor that looks like Abuela put it together, it certainly fits the bill for authenticity, but how about the food?
The menu can be a little confusing and even with my rudimentary understanding of Spanish, I sometimes have trouble. Multiple prices are listed next to each item without much of an explanation of what they mean. In the lunch specials, two prices are listed for items eaten in and two more are listed for takeout orders. I still don’t quite get it and communication with the staff can be a little difficult, but persevere, because the food is worth it.
There are sandwiches available starting from $6.50, but for a couple bucks more you can get a mountain of pork or chicken or whatever along with sides that are much more filling, so why bother?
There are few things more satisfying to me than a platter of Pernil. Roast pork, shredded and melting and sprinkled with bits of skin, soft and chewy or crisp and crackly, if I ate it nearly as often as I’d like, I’d be dead by now. Milanes’ pernil ($8-9) is served with beans and a pile of yellow rice that nearly glowed orange, I’m drooling just thinking about it.
On my second visit, I went for the Chicharrones de pollo. These aren’t on the lunch specials menu and are listed as a bit more than the pernil (depending on what prices you look at), but really for crispy chicken chunks, how could I not? The serving was huge and came with a salad that I suppose is meant to keep your mind off the fact that you’re about to eat a pile of pure fried goodness.
I chose the boneless variety, which it turns out is $11.50, instead of $9 for the bone-in. Next time, I’d go with the bone-in both for the price and because some of the smaller pieces of the boneless were slightly dry.
Really though, there are so many more options here that I hope to check out, both of the unusual and more common varieties. I have to say, the offerings of orejitas (ears), chivo (goat) and tripe soup all appeal to me as much as the gallina (hen), oxtails and meatballs do. I expect that the pricing scheme will make more sense to me over time, but for now, I’d just advise that you ask about the price when ordering.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- From guts to pork chops, it’s got a real Latin menu that’s not dumbed down for a wider audience.
- All plate dishes come with options of a mountain of rice and beans.
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- What is up with the prices?
Milanes, 168 West 25th Street (btw. 6+7th), 212-243-9797