Sandy Restaurant | 2261 2nd Ave. (on 116th St.) | 212.348.8954 | |

SO MY FRIEND HUNTER WAS looking to get out of the house for lunch and called me to see if I was available. It just so happened that I would have to run errands a few hours later in East Harlem, so I suggested he join me and we would find a nice Cuban joint to eat at

We did find such a place; directly across from the more “restaurant-y” El Nuevo Caridad, we entered Sandy’s Restaurant, more of a diner style setting with menus in Spanish and a host of dishes that spanned Cuban and Carribean cuisines, including a dish I had only seen on cooking shows, known as mofongo, which is traditionally made as a mash of fried green plaintain, garlic, broth, and pork/pork fat or bacon.

Sandy Restaurant, East Harlem

Sandy Restaurant, East Harlem

After quickly quenching our thirsts on this unseasonably humid afternoon with a frambuesa (raspbery soda), and a Kola Champagne, we started our meal with some white cheese empanadas, then followed them with my very first mofongo with chicharrones platter, a the far more commonly enjoyed pork pernil with red bens and rice

Empanadas, Sandy Restaurant, East Harlem

Mofongo, Sandy Restaurant, East Harlem

Mofongo with Chicharrones, Sandy Restaurant, East Harlem

Mofongo Sauce, Sandy Restaurant, East Harlem, Inc.

Mofongo with chicharrones, Sandy Restaurant, East Harlem

Pork Pernil, Sandy Restaurant, East Harlem

Pork Pernil with Rice & Beans, Sandy Restaurant, East Harlem

Pork Pernil with Rice & Beans, Sandy Restaurant, East Harlem

I was impressed with the flavor of the monfongo, richly layered, sweet and garlicky savory, and every forkful extremely filling. The chicharrones were tasty as well, although I was hoping to get much the textural dichotomies usually associated with roast pork items: lean tender meat, a layer of flavor fat, and a “stickly” crispy skin. The skin had very little crispiness to it at all.

Likewise lacking in the crispy skin department were Hunter’s pork pernil skins; they were rubbery to the point of being more of a hassle to try to chew and swallow than was worth it (I couldn’t cut through it as quickly as I had hoped, and it is the first time in a long time than I had to spit something back into my napkin!)

The lean parts of the pernil, though, were very tasty, tender, properly stringy and passingly served by the aromatic and slightly soupy beans with rice.

I am glad that I’ve had my very good mofongo; I can only assume that, in line with the quality of some of the other dishes we had, I will eventually have an even better version of it….

Bun Apple Tea!


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Sandy Restaurant | 2261 2nd Ave. (on 116th St.) | 212.348.8954 | |, Inc.