La Isla's Cuchifritos
There's no better window-shopping than gawking at a craggy pile of cuchifritos, a golden-fried peep show facing the street.
New York has scores of cuchifrito spots, generally serving large Puerto Rican and Dominican communities. They're usually casual places that serve roast pork, mofongo, and various stews, but specialize in fried pig parts. The word comes from "cochino" and "frito," the words for "pig" and "fried" respectively.
La Isla, a friendly diner in Sunset park, proudly displays fried tongue, pork ear, pork tripe, and blood sausage in its large window. Inside, a lunch counter lines one wall, and most people are eating oxtail or beef stew. Aside from the traditional pig bits, the cuchifritos area also holds pastelillos, stuffed potato balls, and bacalaitos, or salt cod fritters.
Most of the cuchifritos are $1, but the bacalaitos will run you $1.25. The crisp, ufo-shaped treats are dyed yellow with annatto and seasoned with garlic and onions, the dense, cake-like interior turning up silken bits of salt cod with almost every bite.
4920 Fifth Avenue