As I touched on a bit in a previous post, Union City, the most densely populated city in the U.S., otherwise known as “Havana on the Hudson” is the largest enclave of Latin American food in the entire NY/NJ metro area. However, having only barely scratched the surface for what is probably the largest concentration of Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Colombian, Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Salvadoran and Guatemalan food anywhere in the Northeast United States, I decided to spend a Saturday afternoon driving around and scoping out stores and restaurants for future OTB posts.
Here is Los Hermanos supermarket on Bergenline Avenue, one of the literally dozens of Latino grocery stores servicing all kinds of ethnic Hispanic groups in Union City.
At these supermarkets you can get all sorts of Latino and Caribbean produce, including the key ingredients of Sofrito, which is used as the flavoring basis of many Latino cuisines. Shown here is Recao (also called Culantro or Sawtooth Herb) a herb in the Cilantro family, and Ajice Dulce (also called lajicitos or ajicito dulce) a sweet, non-firey cousin to the habanero chile.
Union City, the Havana on the Hudson awaits. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
Country Club, a brand of soda from the Dominican Republic.
All sorts of fresh cuts of meat are avaliable for Latino dishes.
At pretty good prices too!
If you want your meat live and killed for you on the spot, you could try the local poultry market. Now, I’ll add here that I actually went inside said market, but the odor was so overwhelming of blood, excrement and urine — the smell of death — that I almost passed out within 5 seconds within walking in there. Poultry butchering is a nasty business.
Pollo a la Brasa, or roast chicken is one of the most popular types of food in the area, although each country and each restaurant has its own secret way of seasoning it. This particular shop, Kikiriki, is a Peruvian style place.
Decor at Kikiriki is spartan, but that’s not why you come here.
An order of Peruvian roast chicken, with crispy skin. Juicy and flavorful.
a Peruvian aji chile dipping sauce, which had some unique flavors that I was unable to easily identify.
Pollos Mario, a Colombian roast chicken chain, also has a Union City location. I wrote up the Hackensack location in an earlier post.
And here’s Chick King…
And Pollo Supremo… six chicken places all on the same block, and all of them somehow manage to stay in business. That must be a testament to the 60,000 Latinos living in Union City.
Here’s the Bandera supermarket and restaurant complex, perhaps the largest Latino grocery store in the entire area.
They also own a big liquor store across the street, which has more Latino brands of liquor and beer than you can shake a stick at.
I was really impressed with the quality and freshness of the produce at Bandera.
For a huge supermarket its utterly packed wall to wall with stuff.
One of the many long multi-ethnic aisles at Bandera. You want Cuban Chinese chow mein kits? No problem. Diet Columbian Hot Chocolate with Splenda? 14 brands of Dulce de Leche? A hundred kinds of hot sauces? Its all here.
The soda aisle here is extensive, and I like the fact you can get Latino formulations of Coca-Cola with real sugar. This Coke and Fanta is from the Dominican Republic.