Incredibly Cheap Eats -- Mambi

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Caldo Gallego is Dominican soul food. "Gallego" refers to the language and population of Galicia, a region in northwestern Spain composed of sea cliffs and green hills that is unlike most people's impressions of the hot and dusty Spanish landscape. Many Dominicans trace their origins to Galicia, and the namesake soup often served in Washington Heights cafes embodies romantic associations with the old country. Similar to the Portuguese soup called caldo verde, caldo gallego contains small white beans, kale, smoked pig tidbits, and vegetables that partially disintegrate to make a thick and garlicky potage - a perfect one-dish meal.

In the wonderful version at Mambi, which is just down Broadway from the bus depot, we picked out savory tidbits of pig tail, trotter, skin, and shank, along with carrots and potatoes that a friend described as "so creamy they taste like they've been cooked for a week." A squeeze of lime makes the flavor take off. Along with the bowl of soup, you get a basket brimming with bread slices that have been slicked with fat and toasted in the same press used to make Cuban sandwiches. The soup is silky and unforgettable. 4181 Broadway, Manhattan, 212-928-9796. The cost: $4

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