Washington Heights

Eight-year neighborhood resident Tom Valenti, chef-owner of Ouest and the forthcoming West Branch, shows TONY where to get the best groceries, takeout and batidas on his corner of the island.


New Caporal A takeout-only fried chicken operation, this Dominican spot is one of Valenti’s standbys. “This might be the best fried chicken in the city,” he raves of the meat, which is served from behind bulletproof glass. “It’s like a cartoon—when I walk out of the subway there’s a smoky finger beckoning, ‘Eat me now!’” 3772 Broadway between 156th and 157th Sts (212-862-8986)


La Mina Meat Market This small grocery is home to a reliable meat counter. “It’s not everywhere you can get things like this,” says Valenti, sizing up a selection that includes chicken feet, oxtails, meaty trotters and pernil (pork shoulder). “When I’m making a tomato sauce, I’ll come in to buy gizzards. You can get the basics here, too, but these kinds of meats suit the income of the neighborhood.” 553 157th St between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway (212-923-8868)

La Fiesta Restaurante

Photographs: Jeff Gurwin, Veronica Rafael


La Fiesta Restaurante “We order in from this place at least twice a week,” says Valenti of this Latin-American diner. “A whole rotisserie chicken is $6.50, and it’s as good a chicken I’ve had anywhere short of Daniel or Bouchon. They also make these soups—consommé de chivo [goat broth], tripe soup, oxtail soup—and they deliver it with a little satchel of chopped onion, cilantro and lime wedges. It’s so good, and you would struggle to spend $25.” 3797 Broadway between 157th and 158th Sts (212-281-2886)

El Palacio Pescaderia

Photographs: Jeff Gurwin, Veronica Rafael


El Palacio Pescaderia Valenti chooses this clean, well-stocked market for fresh fish. “Catfish! Spanish mackerel! Beautiful!” he exclaims, poring over El Palacio’s wide, ice-filled trays that cradle the glossy offerings. “This place is really nice,” he says. “Even the fish heads used for soup are bright, shiny and glistening.” Valenti also vouches for the containers of tart, colorful ceviches that make up the ready-to-eat options. 3801 Broadway between 158th and 159th Sts (212-927-3810)


Carniceria La Blanda “Every shelf of every market is not going to deliver what Fairway or Whole Foods will,” warns Valenti. “You don’t see things like broccoli or asparagus. Even lettuce is marginal at best.” But produce popular among the area’s Dominican community—like yuca and plantains—abounds. “You can get beautiful tomatillos, stunning avocados, cilantro and some other herbs [at La Blanda].” 3824 Broadway between 159th and 160th Sts (212-927-4860)

Tom Valenti at Brother Fish Market Inc.

Photographs: Jeff Gurwin, Veronica Rafael


Brother Fish Market Inc. “This is a very catch-as-catch-can kind of fish market,” Valenti explains, perusing Brother’s fillets, heaps of shrimp and whole red snapper. “I’m not buying lobster here.” Skip the retail and go directly to the five-seat counter. There, you can order fish plucked straight from the ice and have it grilled, fried, baked or steamed to your liking (a skewer of six meaty shrimp is just $5). 3845 Broadway between 160th and 161st Sts (212-781-2680)

5 Estrella Bakery Corp.

Photographs: Jeff Gurwin, Veronica Rafael


5 Estrella Bakery Corp. Traditional Dominican snacks are offered alongside fast-food staples at this corner bakery and sandwich shop: Choose batidas (shakes), café con leche and a range of baked goods (like pan de agua, buns similar to dinner rolls). “They have a really good Cubano here,” adds Valenti. 3861 Broadway at 161st St (212-795-5000)

Like Chicken? Send a haiku about fried chicken to eatout@timeoutny.com by May 7, 2008. TONY will deliver a chicken lunch from New Caporal to the winning poet.

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