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La Caridad 78


Jason Perlow
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Like markk, I like La Caridad for its Cuban food only. I've been going to La Caridad since a high school friend took me there in 1987. As a college grad new to the city and on a budget, I thought it was the greatest thing: cheap tasty food! BYOB! (They now have a liquor license.) Now, as a person who's been in the city for a while (still with limited funds, though), I realize that it is cheap food, not the greatest cheap food, but pretty good cheap food. I continue to go for sentimental and budgetary reasons, when I find myself on the UWS and don't want to spend a lot of money for lunch. I enjoy the baked chicken with yellow rice and red beans, especially as a $5 lunch special. The beans are pretty flavorless, though, and it helps to pour the juice off the chicken and onto them and/or the rice. Maduros on the side is an occasional splurge. The picadillo is a salty, greasy treat, not in a so bad it's good way, but just in a good way. I used to love the liver steak and carne guisada, too, but I haven't had either in several years. And let's not forget the cafe con leche that outshines anything from Starbucks. This is pretty tasty food for fast food prices, and I've never noticed anything comparable in the immediate area. Atmosphere-wise, La Caridad is a great place to sit, eat, and read the paper. And I love the stolid waiters who seem to be the same ones who were there in '87. These are things that make it a uniquely New York kind of place.

For the Chinese side of the menu, I prefer Flor de Mayo on 101st and Broadway, where I like to mix it up by getting the spit-cooked chicken, "pollo a la brasa," from the Cuban menu, with an order of "house special" fried rice. "House special" fried rice to me seems to always mean fried rice with ham, shrimp and best of all, bits of scrambled egg. Flor's version is better than that from many American Chinese takeout places and it takes well to that vinegary sauce that they give you for the chicken. Although I normally order takeout from Flor, I also like the fact that they have a bona fide cocktail bar.

Edited by bethala (log)

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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Oh, I really like this place--not because the food is so wonderful, but because it's still there, still cheap, still dingy--and still a place where all kinds of people eat --musicians, students, families, old people--and NYC is changing so rapidly into a city only for rich people and tourists that i cherish the old multi culti wherever it survives.

I have never eaten the Chinese there--I go for the Cuban side, but the funny thing is that the Cuban always has a tinge of Chinese in it somewhere, and ditto the Chinese.

And I love the waiters there--rushed off their feet, stonefaced, but generally patient--especially with kids--it's a great place to bring kids--if they are picky a dish of rice and an ice cream makes them happy.

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