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La Avenida's charming East Harlem neighborhood is precisely the area where you might expect to find great cuisines unhindered by the hustle and bustle of lower Manhattan. Once inside, every employee from the bartender to the waiter in the back will politely drop what they’re doing and salute you in a way that makes you feel like you’re being welcomed into a friend’s home. Once you’re seated, you’ll find that this warm reception is an example of the restaurant's excellent customer service and not a false attempt at inclusiveness.
The menu of traditional Latin American favorites dovetails nicely with the restaurant's homey, neighborhood feel. If you’re looking for authentic ceviche de camaron ($14), then you must try La Avenida's. Shrimp are combined with grilled pineapple, avocado, corn, red onion, cucumber, huitlacoche and poblano and chiltepin peppers, then served in a margarita glass. Though the ceviche has a strong seafood flavor, it's not overpowering.
The pollo al horno ($15) is another standout. Warm and succulent, the oven-roasted chicken breast mingles beautifully with silky mashed potatoes. If you’re not impressed yet, you must finish your meal with the citrus flan ($9.) This pan-traditional Latin American desert or postre has the flavor and texture of typical flan, but with an unexpected kick of citrus fruit that leaves you craving more. You can round out the meal with an affordable glass of red Malbec ($9), a spicy michelada ($7) or one of the restaurant's many Latin-inspied signature cocktails. This quaint Mexican cantina in El Barrio is well worth a trip uptown.
BY TIME OUT COMMUNITY REVIEWER: EMY RODRIGUEZ