Accessible by the 6 train and several city buses, the Longwood area of the South Bronx is a predominantly Latino neighborhood, with a high concentration of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Hondurans. Centered around the green space of Bill Rainey Park and with an attractive residential historic district, Longwood holds a number of small businesses that can feel like an extension of home for many residents—barbershops, bodegas and, of course, restaurants, cafés and bakeries.
A rich Latin food scene thrives in these venues and in the neighborhood at large. If you’re around in late June, you can enjoy examples of the cuisine at the ; any other time, look to one of the spots below for tacos, pupusas, fresh-baked sweets and other Latin American specialties.
576 Southern Blvd.
People love this Mexican gem for its masterfully prepped margaritas. The frozen coconut and paloma ones both deserve accolades; don’t forget to ask for Tajin (a spicy chili-lime mix) on the rim. For food, you can’t go wrong with the tacos, but the fajitas are tasty and Instagrammable. They come on a sizzling hot plate with enough food that you’ll probably end up asking for a to-go box.
794 Southern Blvd.
Head to El Valle for a casual sit-down meal with Spanish tunes in the background. The restaurant serves typical Dominican fare, but their rotisserie chicken (pollo horneado) is perfection. You can see them roasting away (and even catch their fragrance) through the restaurant’s front glass window. Come in the morning for the tres golpes—mangu (mashed plantains) and fried salami, eggs and cheese.
656 Prospect Ave.
Head to this tiny Dominican joint when you don’t have a specific craving—their menu changes daily. Buffet-style food is on display through a glass window, so just choose what looks good to you or ask the server to give you a rundown of the menu. However, if you’re there when they have pescado con coco (fish in coconut sauce), rabo (oxtail) or sancocho (Dominican soup made with several meats), do yourself a favor and get whichever is available.
766 E. 152nd St.
If you want to grab a plate of Lechonera La Piraña’s famous lechon, you’ll have to visit Longwood on a Saturday or Sunday, the only two days this food joint is open. Prepare to wait in line as well. The establishment is actually a trailer, and while you won’t find any seating, you’ll find the owner, Angel Jimenez, cutting up Puerto Rican–style pork using a machete and dressing it up in his famous mojito (garlic sauce). The lechonera is a South Bronx treasure, first opened by Jimenez’s parents more than 30 years ago.
915 Avenue St. John
Before moving into its current space, Margarita’s existed out of a truck parked in an empty lot along East 156th Street. The Dominican restaurant continues to be a local favorite for seafood pastelillos and alcapurrias—you can’t go wrong with the ones stuffed with jueyes (crab). If you want more of a main plate, grab la bandera, a Dominican term for rice, beans and meat. That meat might be stew chicken, fried pork chops or a number of other options.
503 Jackson Ave.
More Mott Haven than Longwood proper—but worth the trek—Mexicocina has plenty to win your approval, including its Mexican-inspired floral decor. There are some delicious flavored margaritas on the menu, but the nonalcoholic aguas frescas are just as good. Savory dishes to look for include birria tacos, meat or vegan quesadillas and the various molcajetes—mixtures of assorted veggies and meats served in a stone mortar.
831 E. 149th St.
The best time to head to Pitusa might be early morning for breakfast, though anytime you’re looking for a sweet treat it will do the trick. Most items are freshly baked that day. Honestly, you could order a simple butter roll and still be content, though an entire breakfast platter, home fries included, is probably your best bet. To appease a sweet tooth, grab a cake slice, specifically the tres leches, a rice pudding or a doughnut.
Seis Vecinos. Photo: José Alvarado Jr.
640 Prospect Ave.
The name translates to “six neighbors,” alluding to the fact the restaurant’s cuisine incorporates the food of Honduras and neighboring Central American countries, plus Mexico. If you’re looking for a quick bite, go for the pupusas: thick griddled corn cakes usually stuffed with a combo of refried beans and meat. If you’re staying, make sure to order the fresh guac (they make it right in front of you); the carne asada with tajadas (fried plantains) is also good.
962 Longwood Ave.
Tacos Los Tigres’ space is tiny, so most opt for takeout, but there’s usually a couple of tables available for those who feel like dining in. Don’t let the size fool you though. The tacos, quesadillas (made with either a flour tortilla or traditional corn), sopes and tortas are all top notch. There’s a huge variety of meats to choose from, including lengua (beef tongue) and buche (pork stomach). It’s always busy, so be prepared for a wait.