It is hard not to adore La Pulperia’s Upper East Side location at 1626 Second Avenue between 84th and 85th Streets on the former site of Notte. It is a dimly lit, very open space that is warm and inviting with repurposed Brazilian wood floors and complete with an artisanal bar and ace mixologist. It also happens to have the most clever wall decor I have seen in ages. In the back is a three dimensional mural of “La Groceria,” a classic old school Latin grocery stand complete with what looks like full-size products that are actually “decoys.” I just thought this piece of wall art was so cute and intricately designed that I could not stop staring at it during dinner!
And what a dinner it was. The short ribs braised in sangria and served over creamy polenta were just world class. There is no easier way to say it. They were cooked for hours and the meat was tender and juicy; the sangria gave it a bit of a citrusy tang and I just had to tell the waitstaff how impressed I was. They confirmed that this was one of the most popular items on the menu and I did go to Yelp later to see the rave reviews.
The fundido–which is a mixed melted white cheese fantasy–comes in a small cast iron pan that comes to the table. You get about six buttery and garlicky toasted French bread to pour this rich concoction on. Leave the diet at home the night you order this. It is the most filling of appetizers and the stuff creams are made of.
Also pictured above is the grilled Caesar salad which is made of artisanal Romaine, tomato confit, Dominican fried cheese croutons, pickled radishes, house made Caesar dressing and anchovy salt. If you do not eat fish, they will prepare without any anchovy paste or salt. You can add salmon, shrimp or steak and make a full entree about it. I fell deeply in love with the croutons and radishes as they were both unusual taste sensations that you can only get at La Pulperia. The crunchy and sweet radish paired with the soft fried and gooey croutons was enough to steal my heart.
The Hanger steak was a huge 12 ounce portion and done perfectly rare. This certified Black Angus cut is at 29 dollars, one of the great food deals of the Upper East Side and comes with an incredible four sides. My dining partner Gail Worley and I split the steak as well as the Russsian potato salad, grilled broccoli rabe, garlic mashed potatoes. eggplant chambota and chimichura sauce that came with it.
Dinner was concluded with a carmelized banana crepe with homemade vanilla ice cream that had a very natural vanilla bean flavor. I loved having a few tablespoons of homemade caramel sauce on the plate for dipping. It was the perfect size portion for two after downing such a delicious and well-rounded dinner.
Cocktail-wise, let me recommend the Upper East Side Lady which is a beautiful mix of strawberry-infused Hendricks Gin, lavender nectar, gold flakes, Cointreau and elderflower liqueur. It is sweet but not impossibly so and a favorite of not just Upper East Side ladies! Men like it, too, and don’t care that it is a orangey pink!
For more info and to check out the wonderful and diversified menu, go to www.lapulperianyc.com. You will see that they have several other locations including one at 151 East 57th Street. La Pulperia mania is really catching on. You probably cannot find so many varieties of Latin food mixed with Modern American under one roof anywhere else in the Big Apple. Reservations are recommended but not mandatory.