Your Passport to Latin Cuisine – Right Here in our Backyard

The River Towns boast a rich and vibrant Hispanic community that is showcased in the abundance of Latin restaurants dotted up and down the shores of the Hudson. Beyond the traditional Mexican fare, of which there are many great options (for another day!), there are also plenty of other choices that highlight the flavors and cultural heritage of Central and South America.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage month, Sept. 15-Oct. 15, I explored a sampling of many of the nearby offerings. There are countless others for you to discover and share with friends.

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As I explored these restaurants and spoke with the owners and staff, I heard over and over again how food is deeply connected to culture, family, and community. No matter how much or little you have to eat, it is shared generously and genuinely with those around you.

I was delighted to be welcomed into these restaurants, and to learn about their food, countries and traditions. So, with our compliments, here’s your passport to explore the amazing flavors of Latin America – right here in our own backyard. Prepare to have your taste buds thrilled with citrusy ceviches, flaky empanadas, and rich meat and seafood dishes.

Pollo A La Brasa at Aji Limo

Aji Limo’s bright and cheerful dining room sits at the top of Ossining’s main. The menu is filled with a wide variety of Peruvian dishes that highlight the influences of African, Asian, and European cuisine over hundreds of years. In addition to the food menu, Aji Limo offers a delicious selection of house-made soft drinks, fruit juices and slushies.

  • ajilimoperuviancuisine.com
  • 199 Main Street, Ossining NY

Origin: Peru

Traditional Dish: Pollo a la Brasa is a flavorful rotisserie chicken roasted over coal, which originated as a way to feed many people quickly and inexpensively. Each region of Peru has its

own recipe, and you will find it served on virtually every street corner. Traditionally, this dish would be served with rice, fries, and salad, but here it comes with a variety of sides, including yuca fries, tostones and sweet plantains, so pick your favorites and enjoy.

Oxtail Stew with sides from Ambar Restaurant

Ambar Restaurant was opened almost 10 years ago by two close friends from the Dominican Republic who are in the kitchen making all the dishes. The flavors they produce are consistently delicious and reminiscent of “home.”

  • 914-631-6393
  • @ambarrestaurantsh
  • 60 Clinton Street, Sleepy Hollow NY

Origin: Dominican Republic

Traditional Dish: Oxtail Stew is made from thinly-sliced meat, simmered for hours to infuse a rich, savory flavor, and to ensure the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. Once a staple of traditional Dominican meals, due to Oxtail’s rising price, this delicious stew is now reserved for special occasions. It is served with rice and beans for the perfect combination, often called La Bandera (“the flag.”)

Croquetas from Croqueteria

Croqueteria inhabits a cute corner in downtown Sleepy Hollow. The newly-renovated sleek black and white interior offers café-style ordering and indoor and outdoor seating. Opening just one year ago, this small, family-owned business features a menu of seasonal and traditional sweet and savory croquetas, and delicious made-to-order sandwiches.

  • croqueteriallc.wixsite.com
  • 166 Cortlandt Street, Sleepy Hollow NY

Origin: Cuba

Traditional Dish: Croquetas are a staple of Cuban cuisine served at most meals and celebrations. The croqueta is crispy on the outside and stuffed with a variety of fillings, bound together with a béchamel sauce. While traditionally filled with pork, cod or ham, each region’s croquetas will vary, depending on what is available. As with many dishes, the croqueta is a way of re-purposing leftovers or stretching what you have, to feed the family.

Pupusas with slaw from El Rey

El Rey Salvadoreño is a small, authentic neighborhood restaurant that serves quick dine-in or take-away breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With an extensive menu of traditional dishes, including tamales, rellenos (stuffed peppers), meat, and seafood dishes — along with standard deli sandwiches, wraps, salads, and the elusive Mexican Coca-Cola — there is something sure to please everyone here.

  • elreysalvadoreno.com
  • 192 North Highland Avenue, Ossining NY

Origin: El Salvador

Traditional Dish: A pupusas is a thin masa or cornmeal griddle cake served with a tangy, slightly spicy coleslaw and mild red salsa. Pupusas are filled with a variety of ingredients mixed with cheese and grilled to crispy perfection. Traditional fillings include beans, shrimp, pork rind, chicken, loroco (edible vine flower) or ayote (squash), so it’s impossible not to find at least one, if not more, you will love.

Black Shell Ceviche in front surrounded by (from right to left, Arroz Marinero (rice with mixed seafood), Shrimp Ceviche, and tostones from La Cabana.

La Cabaña is a friendly, family-run restaurant that has been perched on the same busy street corner for the last 23 years. With a native Ecuadorian chef running the kitchen, dishes are authentic with a modern twist. Portions are large and easily shareable, so come with an appetite and a friend.

  • @lacabanapeekskill
  • 400 Highland Avenue, Peekskill NY

Origin: Ecuador

Traditional Dish: Ceviche is a popular dish across Ecuador and is primarily made from shrimp, mixed seafood, or black shelled clams. The seafood is combined with red onions and tomatoes and brined in flavorful citrus broth typically made from acidic lemons and limes. Ecuadorian ceviche is served with more of the juice, so it has a soupier consistency with more of the delicious citrus flavors coming through.

Empanadas from Los Andes Bakery

Los Andes Bakery is a charming and welcoming bakery, with an extensive selection of freshly-made breads, pastries, deserts, sandwiches, seasonal and specialty cakes, and empanadas. The Chilean husband-and-wife team have been a staple of the community for 30 years, and bake everything on site.

  • (914) 631-3256
  • @losandesbakery
  • 180 Valley Street, Sleepy Hollow NY

Origin: Chile

Traditional Dish: Empanadas are an ancient and iconic dish in Chilean cuisine. This hand-held meal of flaky pastry is traditionally filled with chopped beef which has been slowly roasted with savory spices and combined with olives, raisins and chopped egg. The key to these great empanadas is in the texture of the dough and the layered flavors of the filling.

Ropa Vieja from Cube Inn (photo by Clarence Morley III)

The Cube Inn is a new arrival in Tarrytown main street dining. The former dry cleaners has been beautifully transformed into a family-run Cuban restaurant. The menu reflects a passion for food, strong Cuban roots and family recipes passed down through generations.

  • thecubeinn.net
  • 22 W Main Street, Tarrytown NY

Origin: Cuba

Traditional Dish: Ropa Vieja (“old clothes”) is the national dish of Cuba, where it has been made for hundreds of years. Traditionally prepared the day before, by slowly roasting beef and vegetables marinated in sofrito (a tomato-based sauce), Ropa Vieja is a rich and flavorful comfort food often served for Sunday dinner.

 

Chile Cubana served at Yuka’s Latin Fusion

Yuka’s Latin Fusion is a vibrant restaurant with plenty of indoor, patio and bar seating, and a private room for parties. The interior has gone through an extensive renovation and is rich in color and texture. Their menu features a variety of classic and Latin fusion dishes, extensive tapas options, and a variety of margarita and mojito, made from fresh-squeezed ingredients.

  • yukaslatinfusion.com
  • 2011 Albany Post Road, Croton-on-Hudson

Origin: Latin Fusion

Traditional Dish: Chile Cubano is a colorful dish that, in true Latin Fusion form, combines flavors from Mexico, Cuba and Guatemala. This dish is beautifully plated and features a large slightly spicy poblano pepper stuffed with savory Ropa Vieja and served with mildly sweet corn tamale. Every bite is a perfect melding of savory, spicy and sweet.

Alisa has lived in the River Towns for over 14 years. She loves exploring the beautiful Hudson Valley with her family and two dogs on a quest for the perfect site, sip, or bite.

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About the Author: Alisa Dror