Aries Cafe is Now Acuario Cafe; Still Serving Dominican Meats Out of a Service Hallway
A few weeks ago we put out a call for new contributors… well today, we’d like to introduce you to one of our newest members of the team. Give a warm welcome to Karen L!
It’s been awhile since we’ve covered Aries Cafe (on 37th and 8th), but the stalwart Dominican/Puerto Rican joint keeps going strong… with a brand new name. Not sure when this happened, but there it was just outside the building’s service entrance, on a sandwich board sign with a photo of shrimp over rice: Acuario Cafe. The promising scent of stewed meats is still there but a quick google translate says acquario = acquarium. Does that mean more seafood fare than before? Hard to know when there’s no menu posted!
Sure, Spanish speakers have no problem, but my Spanish vocabulary is near non-existent. I can’t really listen in on other people ordering, only crane my neck to see the choices. Fried pork chop and stews made from goat, oxtail, chicken are still there. The only non-legged option I hear is bacalao, cod stew. No shrimp in sight, except on the sign outside.
Intimidated by the frenetic pace of ordering, I chose some stewed chicken with a huge slice of avocado on the side instead of asking about any new options in English. All orders come with a bed of rice and beans, but I see some people opt for a no-carb version with extra meat. Others round out their order with sides of soup, salad, sliced avocado, or drinks. It probably pays to understand/speak Spanish here!
As for the food, the meat’s falling off the bone and dripping in a hearty sauce, best soaked up with the rice. Despite being filler, the rice and beans taste amazing on their own, worthy as a meal straight up. The avocado is not your average Hass avocado. Instead, this variety tastes watery and less creamy. Luckily the chicken doesn’t need any avocado. Their huge portions would leave most people with a good food coma for the rest of the afternoon.
The wallet’s pretty happy, too. Items still hover at $5, with sides and drinks being $1, all priced to accomodate cash only. No credit cards or coins in sight. This might be one of the few places in New York where hidden prices don’t mean something exorbitant, and yet they accept Benjamins here! For those looking for a hearty lunch from a true hole-in-the-wall, and maybe a little adventure using their Spanish, Acuario hits it home.
Acuario Cafe, 306 W 37th St. (b/w 8th and 9th Ave)