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Harlem And Upper West Side Eateries In the 1930s and 1940s

Mofongo topped with a tasty red sauce, sides of rice and kidney beans and a side of black beans, recipes below

I am in the midst of a series for Hispanic Heritage Month in which I am now discussing the restaurant and music scene in Harlem and Spanish Harlem. After Cubop began to catch on in 1947, it became even more common to see Latino and African Americans playing together in traditionally African American venues and afterward enjoying traditional southern and Caribbean food. Indeed, the blending and sharing of black and Hispanic cuisine extended beyond musicians and the after-hours joints. The WPA project “America Eats,” which was never published, reveals that Latin Americans, West Indians, and African Americans often frequented the same restaurants in Harlem and the Upper West Side. In the 1930s, these community restaurants were “patronized by a heterogeneous clientele of Latin-Americans, Spaniards, British West Indians, and African Americans.” For less than a dollar you could go to a Cuban or Puerto Rican restaurant and eat well. There was the Ideal at Lenox Avenue and 115th Street and the Toreador at Lenox and 110th Street. There was also Pascual Quintana’s El Carribe at 235 West 116th Street, where you could get mofongo con chicharrones, mashed green plantains mixed with mashed fried pig skin and covered with garlic, onion, and hot pepper sauce. El Favorito was a well-known Puerto Rican eatery in Spanish Harlem open twenty-four hours a day that sold rice and beans along with bread and butter for thirty-five cents.

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