2008 Best (and Worst) of Latino NYC

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Here at Remezcla, we have our own opinions of what was the best (and not so great) of Latino Nueva York this year, but we also wanted to get a sense what artists, scenesters and regular nuyorkers thought about the cultural highlights of 2008. Below, our group of panelists (including Junot Diaz!) give us great insight on where to get the best ceviche, which local band is the hardest working and what they wished we had more of. Now, post your comments and give us your opinion of what rocked (or not) this year.

Event Curator/Producer, Cultural
Promoter & Marketing Stategist, Asho Productions

Best concert of 2008: Fania Tribute at SOB’s

Best on the ones and twos: DJ Laylo

Hardest working local band: San Juan Hill

Best after-hours spot: Lava Gina

Latinosploitation film of the year: Under the Same

Breakthrough (visual) artist: Mike 1 Soul and Crew from 1 Soul Designs.

Best street food: Pupusas from Red Hook Park near Ikea in Brooklyn

Best meal under $10: Any lunch special at “El Floridita”-but especially the rabo guisado w/ white rice and beans (174 St location.)

Most inauthentic “Latin” restaurant: Bonita Restaurant

Best spot to buy hard-to-find ingredients/products from Latin America: Bravo Supermarket (181 St and Broadway)

Local Latino discovery of the year: Junot Diaz

Wish we had a Latino Hip Hop Club or “real” Latino Hip Hop Scene in NY.

Nacotheque DJ/host, MySpace celebrity

Best concert of 2008: Kumbia Queers at Nacotheque

Song of the year: Oscartienealas – “Electroperras”

Best on the ones and twos: Uproot Andy

Hardest working band: Pistolera

Most innovative cultural programming: New Museum

Best street food: Mangos with chile and lime outside  the 4th ave F stop (Park Slope.)

Most inauthentic “Latin” restaurant: San Loco.

Local Latino discovery of the year: My friend Miriam.

Wish we had Sabritas stands in every bodega in NY.

Remezcla Intern, NYU journalism grad
student graduate

Best on the ones and twos: DJ Juice E (residency at 
Madame X

Hardest working band: Zigmat, Pistolera (on tour every
weekend since June)

Most innovative cultural programming: Alphabeta in
Brooklyn has gotten a lot of flack for selling graffiti  related   materials,  but it seems like the community art space is doing just fine. Even without an official site, the place gets a lot of buzz for featuring local artists and street art.

Best street food + best meal under $10: Tacos de tripa from Tacos El Bronco on Fifth Ave. in Sunset Park.

Most inauthentic “Latin” restaurant: Panchito’s Mexican Restaurant on MacDougal in the Village. Bland.

Best spot for drinks: Lobo in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn has a good margarita (large) that’ll get you to the right level after just one. Xunta Tapas Bar in the East Village gets packed when they have their flamenco shows (Thurs. and Sat. I think), so it’s a good crowd for pitcher of sangria and tapas.

Best spot to buy hard-to-find products from Latin America:

Local Latino discovery of the year: Eddie Jr.’s Sports Lounge on Marcy Ave. in Brooklyn. Some skeezy men dancing with cougars, DJ with maracas, cheap and good Dominican food served late. All in all, the type of place you wanna waltz into with a group after getting drunk, feeling hungry, and not wanting to end the night. Good people watching.

Wish we had more taco trucks operating illegally in NY.

Pulitzer Prize winner, author of The Brief
Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

[Ed.Note: Junot is a busy man, but he still got the time to
email us this:]
“claire!  ive been gone for so long i no longer really have
any expertise.  i was away for most of the year in rome.
so ill fill out what i can.”

Hardest working (local) band: YERBA BUENA.  these  cats are without question the real deal.

Best spot for drinks: Mamajuana Cafe on Dyckman.

bassist, Pacha Massive

Song of the year: “No Hay Nadie Como Tu” Calle 13 y
Cafe Tacvba

Best after-hours spot: Speak Easy

Breakthrough (visual) artist: Adrian Roman

Most innovative cultural program:

Best street food:
Empanadas de camaron on 3rd st btw Ave C – Ave D ( they finish early )

Best spot for drinks: Yuca Bar

Best spot to buy hard-to-find products from Latin America:
Cositas Ricas 79-19 Queens Northen Blvd at 80th St.

Local Latino discovery of the year:
” La Casa de la Dicha ” (my new house.)

Wish we had
better empanadas in NY. The camaron ones are good but uts all about la masa, you know?

poet, actor,  Yerbabuena singer

Best concert of 2008: Plena Libre and Yerbabuena at
Orchard Beach.

Best on the ones and twos (local DJ):
Bobbito Garcia

Hardest working (local) band:

Latinosploitation film of the year:
Illegal Tender.

Breakthrough (visual) artist:

Best spot for drinks:
Camaradas El Barrio

Arka Lounge

Best concert of 2008: Beto Cuevas at The Jack Daniel’s
Studio 7 Series. It was awesome to see the new phase
of Beto Cuevas and to being able to hear classics from La Ley.

Song of the year:
“Cada Vez” by Belanova (I get
flashbacks of Belanova in my own backyard)

Best on the ones and twos:
Nacotheque.They are creators of their own genre.

Best street food:
Los Zapatacones del camion que esta justamente en frente de lo que era Umbrella’s.

Most inauthentic “Latin” restaurant:
Caracas Arepa Bar

Best spot for drinks:
Benny’s Burritos (nothing beats their $3 margaritas; add 50 cents for flavor or $2 for a jumbo size that will surely screw you up.

Best spot to buy hard-to-find products from Latin America:
Any bodega in the Heights.

Local Latino discovery of the year:
Chicha Libre (Let’s just keep it a secret but I do like Chicha!)

Wish we had
a Rock en Español Festival in NY. If we have huge rock festivals in our native countries, how come we can’t have one or a couple in NY. The crowd is here, just bring the bands.

Entre 2 Tierras Radio, scenester

Best concert of 2008: Kinky at Highline Ballroom

Best on the ones and twos
: I would have to say Marcelo
and his partner in crime Amylu.

Hardest working (local)band
: 3nigma has worked very
hard this year and accomplished opening for many bands like Jaguares and Los Autenticos Decadentes.

Best street food: Taco spot across the street from La Kueva.

Most inauthentic “Latin” restaurant:
Tina’s on Madison Ave or like I call it “wannabe Cuban food.”

Best spot to buy hard-to-find products from Latin America:
Queensssssssss…Roosevelt Ave.

Local Latino discovery of the year:
5th Ave and 28th St early morning tamale lady……who would have guessed in the middle of corporate NYC you would find home made tamales? Every morning! (Sometimes on Broadway she changes certain days!!)

Wish we had more
people involved in promoting Latino culture in NY. O sea, to give us native New Yorkers a glimpse of “Pacha Mama”  (Mother Earth) through the eyes of people who experience 1st hand our cultures

NoMAA Program Associate

Best concert of 2008: My favorite performances this year
were at smaller venues (Barbes, Camaradas, Zebulon,
etc.) that feature local acts or lesser-known groups from
elsewhere such as Forró for All, Very Be Careful,
Yerbabuena, Zigmat, etc.

Song of the year:
#1 – “96,000” from the 2008 Tony
Award-winning Musical In the Heights 🙂 #2 – “La Perla” by
Calle 13 y Ruben Blades

Best on the ones and twos:
I <3 DJ Uproot Andy

Hardest working (local) band:

Breakthrough artist:
I’m going to have to go with the emerging and established artists of Washington Heights/Inwood, such as Andrea Arroyo, Andrea Cukier, Raquel Colón, Maggie Hernández, Jessica Lagunas, and Jennifer Sanchez .

Most innovative cultural program:
The Uptown Arts Stroll– a celebration of the arts north of 155th Street in Washington Heights and Inwood.  Often left out from tourist maps, most New Yorkers know what is up – and if you don’t – find out!

Best street food:
When in the Heights – look out for the lady selling habichuelas con dulce – I had never had habichuelas con dulce other than my mom’s around Easter – and wow, never would I have thought that a steaming cup of the stuff on a hot summer day in the middle of Fort Tryon Park would be so good.  Also, the ceviche from Red Hook – ain’t nothing wrong with some raw fish/seafood cooked in lemon juice and sold from a street cart during the warmer months of the year – matter of fact – it’s delicious!

Most inauthentic “Latin” restaurant:
I’m not going to name any names buuuuuut… there are some places out there that claim to sell authentic Argentine/Chilean empanadas (tipo argentino/chileno) – well, DON’T BELIEVE IT – tdon’t let these fakepanada imposters fool you!

Best spot for drinks:
Calle Ocho Mojito Mondays – $5 for scrumpdilly cocktails including free chorizo y pan – so you won’t get too “happy”.

Local Latino discovery of the year:
The mysterious truck behind a club in Inwood that sells Venezuelan arepas, cachapas, etc…

Wish we had
a restaurant/street stand featuring the best sandwiches from Latin America – chimis, lomitos, chacareros, cemitas, tortas, jibaritos, chivitos, the works! in NY. Damn – that’s a good idea – it’s mine! (c) Diana Caba 2008.  Also more places for live music/chill atmosphere… and Spanish-sung karaoke…  And a good – GREAT – feria de artesanias that features all the awesome craft items from Latin America but at decent prices.

Project Manager at HBO, cosmopolatina extraordinaire

Best concert of 2008: Babasonicos at Highline Ballroom

Song of the year:
“Como un Lobo” Remix de Miguel
con Bimba Bose.

Best on the ones and twos:

Hardest working band:

Most innovative cultural program:
Coquito tasting at El
Museo del Barrio

Best meal under $10:
Castro’s at Myrtle Ave Brooklyn

Most inauthentic “Latin” restaurant:
La Esquina

Local Latino discovery of the year:
Carlos, VJ for MTV Tr3s – el tipo es de puta madre de cool.

Remezcla Street Team captain, Scenester

Best concert of 2008: Lila Downs at Celebrate Brooklyn

Song of the year:
“La Calabria” by Danny Punto Rojo
hehehe o el reggaeton that goes: “Perdonameeee,
perdonameeee”…that’s all I can remember.

Best on the ones and twos:
D’ Marquesina (nepotismo
total hahahaha.)

Hardest working band:
Pacha Massive (those kids are  trying.)

Best after-hours spot: The CasaClub en Brooklyn.

Latinosploitation film of the year:

Most innovative cultural program:
Mexico Now!, Pinta Art Fair.

Most inauthentic “Latin” restaurant:
Blockheads franchise (but the cheap margaritas are good deal.)

Local Latino discovery of the year:
Lin-Manuel Miranda

Wish we had more
(latino) free stuff to go to and Bunbury/Calamaro shows in NY .


Best concert of 2008: WIllie Colón, East River Park,

Best on the ones and twos
: DJ Pharaoh

Breakthrough artist:
El Hase

Best street food:
Endless Summer truck on N8 and the corner of Bedford, they’re new and soooo goood!!!

Best meal under $10:
La Superior
Best spot to buy hard-to-find products from Latin America: Fine Fair Supermarket on Broadway and Keap

Wish we had
Ron Santa Teresa!!! in NY.