Where To Eat Chino Latino Food In NYCOur favorite spots for lomo saltado, special fried rice, and secret green sauces.
NYC’s Chino Latino restaurants existed long before they took the internet by storm. Starting in the 1960s, Chinese immigrants who came to the city via Latin America opened thriving restaurants, serving both Chinese and criollo food. But the recent closure of some of the classics, like La Caridad on the Upper West Side, is reason enough to spend more time eating a plate of chicharrones de pollo alongside a plate of fried rice.
At most Chino Latino spots, there's a Chinese menu, a Latin menu, and a section that meets in the middle, with combos like ropa vieja with fried rice, or General Tso’s chicken with fried green plantains. We've got our fingers crossed for La Caridad reopening, but meanwhile, here are all the other places you should go to find tables laden with soy sauce, hot sauce, and ketchup (plus off-menu green sauce), rum-spiked nutcrackers, and people in a state of lomo saltado-induced bliss.
We would travel great distances and transfer trains at least three times for the boneless crackling chicken at La Dinastia. These chicharrones de pollo are light and crispy, served with a lemon for squeezing, and best dipped in the secret tangy green sauce, which is one of those secrets that everybody knows about. La Dinastia is the poster child of Chino Latino food in NYC, and rightfully so. It’s a fun, casual spot, filled with Upper West Siders who have been coming here forever, and first-timers working up the courage to ask for green sauce. And everyone’s drinking nutcrackers, which come with a maraschino cherry and go down a little too easily for a weeknight dinner.
This large spot in Washington Heights is the newest addition to the Flor De Mayo family, and it might also be the best. One time we told our server how much we enjoyed our meal here and she replied, “I know. I really like the food here too.” And when an order of fried rice with ham, chicken, shrimp, and pork, or a heaping plate of lomo saltado that’s tangier than a bag of salt and vinegar chips lands on your table, you’ll understand. This location doesn’t have a full liquor license, so head down to the UWS if you really need a nutcracker. But if pollo a la brasa and a pitcher of beer will suffice, you’ll be right at home here.
China Cocina also has a secret green sauce, but since it hasn’t gone viral, like the one at La Dinastia, it’s more of a real secret. You’ll have to ask for it, but you’ll be rewarded with an enthusiastic, “You know about our green sauce?” Now you do, and you also know that it’s best eaten with chicharrones de pollo and fried rice at this family-owned spot in Corona that’s been open for over 30 years. While sipping sangrias with a group here, we once witnessed a regular elbow-deep in a whole lobster with deviled sauce, and we promised ourselves we’d return to experience solo lobster dining bliss.
On any given night of the week, you’ll see a nutcracker with a cocktail umbrella in the hands of almost every person here. This is the original location of Flor De Mayo, and you could probably walk into this Upper West Side spot with 11 of your closest friends and get a table, or at the very least not feel like a complete loser for entertaining the thought of having a fun, last-minute group dinner. You can all just order nutcrackers and pollo a la brasa, which will make splitting the check a breeze.
The fried green plantains here are probably our favorite dish on this list, and maybe of all time. They come heavily doused in mojo de ajo, yet are so crispy that you might end up recommend eating an entire platter (effectively starting and ending your meal here). Despite the chandeliers and big mirrors, this East Williamsburg spot is good for a quick, casual meal, and you’ll see lots of solo diners watching TV and eating sesame chicken at tables decorated with different Latin American flags. The plates are huge and you’ll likely end up with leftovers, so plan (or rejoice) accordingly.
El Pabellon De Oro in Soundview has a steady stream of regulars: people who have a classic order and say things like “Am I the last customer? Well, I’m also the best customer!” Inside, mirrors line the white walls, there are tables for small groups, and a counter where people wait for their takeout. Like many Chino Latino spots, the menu is long, but if you’re here for a quick meal, we’ll make it easy for you: get the ropa vieja and pork fried rice. Now you’ve got your order, in case you want to reach regular status at El Pabellon De Oro, too.
Although unrelated to the other La Dinastia, this small corner spot in Washington Heights is a good option for a quick meal if the 2010s hits at nearby Flor De Mayo are not your thing. It’s the type of place that’s always busy but always has a seat for you—and you’ll see families and groups of friends who know that at a certain point you’ve got to stop talking and just focus on eating your roast pork and maduros. Go for dishes like fried pork chops or boneless chicken crackling with La Dinastia’s special fried rice, which comes with tiny cubes of ham, baby shrimp, and scallions.
At Jardin De China in Corona, you might sit in a red leather booth next to someone who is celebrating their 5th grade piano recital with lomo saltado, or a group of friends catching up over beer and chicharrones de pollo. There are red lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and everybody here understands the magic that is free bread. This spot is cash-only, but there’s an ATM, so once you’ve finished your free bread, order some of that lomo saltado, or some chicken with broccoli, then end your meal with a fortune cookie. Ours read: Keep your goals away from the trolls.
If you find yourself on the Upper West Side and you want Chino Latino food, there are some other spots we’d recommend before La Nueva Victoria. But if you find yourself on the Upper West Side and you want Chino Latino food at lunchtime, they’ve got a solid lunch special (an entree and rice for anywhere between $9 and $12). You can’t get a green salad these days without spending $15 or more, so we consider this a win. And if you’ve already had a day that might necessitate a cocktail, a lunchtime tequila sunrise can help with that.