La Gran Manzana has plenty of late-night eats for your empty stomach after a night dancing with your amigos Don Barcardi, El Señor Cuervo y muchas Negra Modelos (¡y Especiales!). The problem is: do you really want to spend your precious time and hard-earned dinero on some bland, over-priced downtown diner? Especially when you’re already trying to rush back to your crib uptown to “jugar dominos” with that fine morenita (¡o morenito!) you just met at the Pacha Massive concert.
Why settle for a burger made with frozen, processed, low-grade beef to stifle your borracho-ness when you can just as easily order chimichurri, la República Dominicana’s appetizing take on the American fast-food classic. Not to be confused with Argentina’s own delicious chimichurri (a sauce/marinade used on grilled meats), these sandwiches typically consist of warm, toasted pan de agua (soft bread) loaded with Latino-seasoned ground beef patties (though, some spots offer bistec and even pernil), shredded cabbage (instead of wilted lettuce), onions, tomatoes, mayo and ketchup. Long after the bartender has shouted “Last call!” and you’ve thrown back those final two tragitos de Brugal, you might even agree that once you’ve experienced the sabor of an authentic uptown chimichurri, you’ll be ashamed that you ever set foot in a “golden arches.”
Though it is currently known as the setting for a Tony Award-winning musical; a victim of Nueva York’s ever-expanding gentrification; and the home of never-ending dominoes marathons with a merengue/bachata soundtrack…the Washington Heights/Inwood section of Manjátan is a giant after-hours parking lot for chimichurris/fritura trucks. These trucks specialize in quickly serving up chimichurris and sinful fried foods ‘til the wee hours of the morning.
Hop on the 1 train up to Dyckman or 207th Street to get to any of the trucks listed below and experience un maravilloso cielo de Chimi and finish off the night como Dios manda.
Chimichurri El Malecón:
El Malecón, which has been in the Chimi truck business for 5 years, was our hands down winner for flavor and price. La viejita en ese chimi truck was very friendly, with a wholesome abuelita personality and recommended morcilla to go along with our perfectly prepared chimichurri. The sandwich featured all the right ingredients: the bread was toasted, the seasoned meat was plentiful and all the veggies were fresh and crispy. Additionally, the morcilla was nice and picante, while also being quite moist – anyone who’s had bad morcilla knows what it’s like to choke down dry, crumbly blood sausage! Though her frituras selection isn’t nearly as dirverse as other trucks, she makes up for it in price and taste.
Location: Sherman Avenue @ 207th Street
Horas: 5pm – 1am
Also Try: morcilla
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The second stop on this Chimichurri adventure found us at a camión sin nombre. When asked for a name, la mujer cocinando los chimis said that they just got into the business a few weeks ago and created a name on the spot. Service was pretty slow and she wasn’t very social. Though the price wasn’t so bad, the chimi itself was mediocre. El pan was not toasted, there were no onions and el flaco pedazo de bistec that she used was cooked to a crisp. Add a heavy dose of mayo and ketchup and you have a pretty sad chimi. We suggest sticking con el pollo, which was actually pretty juicy and tasty.
Location: Sherman Avenue @ 204th Street
Horas: 5pm – 7am
Also try: pollo al horno
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El Boulevard Fritura y Chimichurry: (Yes, spelled with a “Y”)
Tucked beneath the elevated 1 train, El Boulevard is hard to miss – its neon lights may actually be visible from yet-undiscovered solar systems. This truck specializes in diversity and fried carnivorous choices not for the faint of heart. The selection of empanadas, fried lengua de vaca (yes, cow’s tongue), longaniza (fried spicy sausage), oreja de cerdo (pig’s ear) and more, truly make this a cuchifrito on wheels. Additionally, they serve freshly made juices – a definite plus when you’re thirsty in the wee hours of the morning. Service was pretty quick and organized, using a ticket/number system for all customers. By this time in the night and after all that fritanga, we were already stuffed but we were on a mission. The chimi at El Boulevard had an odd hot dog-flavor with too much chimi sauce but we still give it three stars in our Chimi-O-Meter. A bit expensive, though one can’t over look the variety. If you’re not into fried body parts, try the yuca fries con mojito de ajo, which were great.
Location: Tenth Avenue @ 207th Street
Horas: 5pm – 4am
Also try: yuca fries
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Easily the busiest of the four trucks visited that night, when we got to El Peluche there was a crowd of around 10 people waiting in line. This truck’s 15 years in the business of fried Dominican food shines through in its balance of variety, taste and service – though ellos no son baratos. Of the four trucks reviewed, this was the only one to serve chimis de pollo, res y pernil. They also carry bottled mabi juice: popular in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico and known as the “energy drink of the islands. Service, though very slow, was helped by an elaborate two ticket/number set ups, one for frituras and one for chimis. The owner of the truck, Henry, was more than willing to discuss his life story and even treated us to un plato de molleja (gizzard). As he told us, some of his original employees are still with him to this day, and he mentioned how he has expanded the menu from just chimichurris to other fried delights like tostones, chuletas, ribs, pollo frito and more. The chimi we ordered was only second in flavor to Malecón’s, but paired with some freshly made tostones con ajo, will give El Malecón’s viejita a run for her money – if you’re willing to pay the price.
Location: 10th Avenue @ 204th Street
Horas: 2pm – 6am
Also try: molleja de pollo (chicken gizzard)
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Remember: Chimichurri trucks are mobile and may not exactly be licensed. With that in mind, note that they may change location from time to time, but will always remain within a two-block radius. ¡Buen provecho!