Downtown Lunch: La Nueva Conquista Restaurant
Midtown workers shouldn’t have all the fun, so to even the score, I’ve brought on Daniel Krieger as an official Downtown Lunch Correspondent to write up some of the tasty stuff you can get in the lower half of Manhattan. He’s a great photographer (ensuring good food porn), but more importantly he is a lover of cheap, unique and delicious eats (or as I like to call it- Midtown Lunch’ish food.)
La Nueva Conquista Restaurant has been in the same spot for 50 years and although ownership has changed hands over that time, the food and atmosphere have stayed pretty much the same. And almost as important, the prices have held steady as well.
Located on Lafayette street near the corner of Broome, you will find a long ass line during lunchtime containing mostly a latino population. When I first moved to NYC I lived in Washington Heights for 4 years and got quite sick of eating the same food all the time, as back then there wasn’t much variety uptown (not sure how much the hood has changed since I left). On occasion though, I get that craving of a hearty meal of yellow rice and beans; the kinda lunch that sticks to your ribs.
For 7 bucks I can fill that empty void at La Nueva Conquista, where you get your choice of rice (red, white, or brown) and beans (red or black) and a meat. The menu changes every day, so you just choose from what they’ve got. Baked chicken is a standard but you might potentially find goat stew, catfish, pigs feet, and ribs on the menu depending on the day. Sweet plantains (good standard) and boiled+salted yucca (delicious) are options as well.
After I ordered catfish and was on line paying, I asked to sample the goat stew. The woman who had already scooped a generous portion of catfish atop my rice and beans handed me a heaping spoon of stew. As I took it from her and tasted a tender piece of meat swimming in a pool of greasy gravy I knew, before even tasting the catfish that I had made a big mistake by not ordering the goat. It was perfectly stewed and so flavorful. Please get that if you check this place out (although the catfish ended up being pretty decent I must say).
The counter isn’t always clean and if you decide to stay there and eat you’ll be sharing a small space with cases of drinks or bags of rice. But it’s worth the squeeze because for this food at this price there’s not much in the area that rivals this La Nueva.
La Nueva Conquista Restaurant, 236 Lafayette St. (nr. Spring), 212-226-9835