One of my favorite things about New York is that you can find literally whatever you want whenever you want it, especially when it comes to food. New York is the world capital of ethnic cuisine, and the melting pot of cultures comes through loud and clear in the city’s food offerings. Not only will you find plenty of options for whatever country’s cuisine you happen to be craving, but you’ll also find plenty of innovative fusion options developed right here. When plain old tacos or arroz con pollo aren’t quite doing the trick for your taste buds, here are six Latin fusion restaurants to help switch things up.
The name says it all—sushi is king at this Brazilian infused Japanese restaurant. But you won’t be settling for the usual California or Philadelphia rolls. Try the Amazonia or the Sao Paulo rolls which are heavy on avocado and Latin-infused soy sauces. If you’re a bit squeamish about having raw fish and prefer your fish cooked, you can get as Brazilian or as Japanese as you’d like with cooked options ranging from moqueca stew to a savory stir-fry. Sushi Samba has been a staple in the West Village (7th Avenue South at Barrow Street) for almost two decades and has since branched out worldwide to Miami, Vegas, London, and Amsterdam. Check it out wherever you may be.
This is probably my favorite —and most unique — fusion combo on this list. It what might look like an ordinary taco at first, but Taco Mahal adds a distinctive Indian flair, ditching the traditional corn tortilla for either roti or naan. Salsa is swapped out for Indian chutney and the tacos are then topped off with the more familiar onion and cilantro. You’ll also notice that instead of chips and guac, the menu features chips and chutney. While I consider avocado to be an essential food group of its own, I promise you won’t go wrong switching it up once in awhile! And there is still plenty of guac to go around to add as a topping for your taco.
Run by a father daughter duo, this spot in the west village (right next to Sushi Samba) is not even a year old, but it won’t be going anywhere soon. Plus, the website features art fusing our fave Frida Kahlo with Shiva and Gandhi with Zapata—if that’s not enough to get you in the door to start enjoying these savory creations, I don’t know what is.
Pan Latin cuisine may be plentiful in the city, but this should be your go to spot if you can’t decide between Mexican or Cuban, or even American with an old fashioned juicy cheeseburger. Café Habana’s Cuban sandwich is one of the best in New York City. There are plenty of taco options—traditionally Mexican yet with a Cuban twist. In addition to maintaining a 4-star rating with a whopping 2900+ reviews on Yelp, what perhaps stands out most about this diner style joint is its commitment to the community in promoting sustainable growth in the City. Although the owners have expanded with locations around the US and the world, their community outreach efforts remain true to their original home in New York. And there’s some interesting history behind the Mexican-Cuban fusion as well—the original location in downtown Manhattan on Prince Street is said to be modeled off of the Mexico City spot where Che Guevara and Fidel Castro planned the Cuban Revolution.
Open for over 30 years, this was one of the pioneers in Asian influenced Latin food in New York. Based on the Chifa cuisine brought to Peru by Chinese immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century, the restaurant’s simplistic menu looks like what you would expect from your corner Chinese takeout spot. And there’s a reason this restaurant has stayed open so long—while the menu is extensive, it does not easily disappoint. Ranging from classics like pollo a la brasa and wonton soup to Chinese style squid fried rice, you’ll want to keep coming back to try out all the menu has to offer. There are two locations, both located on the Upper West Side—at 83rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue and 100th Street and Broadway.
With a decidedly Latin menu, this restaurant borrows some Mediterranean influence from the likes of Italy and Spain as well. There are plenty of freshly made pasta options with mixtures of seafood, as well as traditional Spanish style grilled octopus. The cocktail menu is one of the most creative I’ve ever seen—vodka with yerba mate? Who knew… And if you’re still hungry after the main course, check out the sweet dessert menu heavy on Italian and Spanish classics. With locations on the Upper East Side, Hell’s Kitchen, and Midtown East, pop by whichever is most convenient for you for either brunch or dinner. On Mondays they even feature live Brazilian jazz performances.
Though it’s definitely more Pan-Asian focused, there are lots of different Latin flavors that sneak their way onto this unique menu. Think Thai flavors infused into ceviche and empanadas, guacamole with a hint of ginger, and spicy wok noodles with carnitas instead of the traditional ground beef. The drink menu balances both Latin and Asian flavors from fruity to bitter, with tropical inspired cocktails and a full sake menu. The happy hour menu is as extensive and just as fusion focused, and there’s a bottomless brunch offering as well. Don’t miss out on this Midtown hotpot, located at 40th Street and 3rd Avenue.