photo by Bradley Hawks
After nearly 40 years in the neighborhood, Adela Fargas’s paean to Puerto Rican cuisine remains a culinary focal point of Alphabet City, offering a slice of San Juan at prices that are downright gentle considering the rampant gentrification the neighborhood has undergone. Casa Adela’s dining room is sparse, but NYU students, food lovers in search of a good deal, and the waning Losaida Hispanic population keep the room humming. Heavily seasoned rotisserie chicken achieves a rust-colored blanket of crisp skin, and tender roast pork shoulder shreds apart with the mere suggestion of a fork. Half of a roasted bird costs less than $10, making the decision to order sides an easy one (plantains are superlative, the sweeter yellow variety crusty with brûléed sugar; the green smashed into discs and fried), and fresh fruit shakes — frothed in the blender and mixed with a touch of sweet cream — taste wholly of the tropics. Fargas’s deeply hued chicken noodle soup is restorative, and her sancocho — a murky oxtail and plantain stew redolent with cilantro and chock-full of corn, potatoes, and yucca — puts lesser bowls to shame. Sate your sweet tooth with the only dessert option: roughly sliced rectangles of jiggling flan.