In the melting pot that is Sunset Park, it comes as no surprise that the variety of restaurants is both large and dazzling.
Up by Eighth Avenue, there are the Asian eateries. On Fourth and Fifth, they give way to a panoply of Hispanic restaurants. And, increasingly, in the manufacturing-industrial-commercial area near the waterfront, there are culinary choices that can’t be described any other way but hip.
We’ve tried some of the restaurants, though there are many more on our radar. Heck, it’s a hard job but, as they say, somebody has to do it.
Among our favorites is Tacos Matamoros, 4508 Fifth Avenue (718-871-7627), where the guacamole is sparkling fresh, the atmosphere is unassuming, and the extensive menu offers something for everyone. We’re particularly partial to the shrimp tacos, the flautas filled with queso fresco and served with a healthy portion of rice and beans and the enchiladas.
That said, Tacos el Bronco, 4324 Fourth Avenue (718-788-2229) also serves up stellar Mexican food at reasonable prices. The brick-and-mortar eatery, which grew out of a food truck, features the food of Puebla, Mexico. Our favorites include a variety of tacos including the El Pastor (roast pork with pineapple), Steak and Chicken and Tripe, served in a double soft flour tortilla and topped with creamy guacamole, cilantro and onions, and whole roasted onion bulbs (ingenious and a delicious palate cleanser), slices of radishes, cucumber and lime on the side.
Guatemalans hungry for a taste of their homeland make a beeline for one of Sunset’s newest entries, the fast-food-but-always-fresh Pollo Campero, 4518 Fifth Avenue (718-436-2835), which serves up fried and grilled chicken with such traditional, and scrumptious, sides as plantains, black beans and yuca fries.
In the Asian part of Sunset Park, there is a wide range of dim sum restaurants. Classics include Pacificana, 813 55th Street (718-871-2880) and East Harbor Seafood Palace, 714 65th Street (718-765-0098), where the parade of small plates — some recognizable, some less so — provide for a culinary smorgasbord and adventure par excellence.
Less familiar but equally enticing is the coconut and curry-inflected Malaysian cuisine served up at Nyonya, 5323 Eighth Avenue (718-633-0808). Among our favorites was Mee Siam, stir-fried rice vermicelli with shrimp and tofu that’s topped with chopped peanuts and Roti Canai, Indian pancake, a freshly baked flatbread served with a curried dipping sauce.
Hitting a totally different note is the casual eatery inside Liberty View Plaza, Bay Market Kitchen, 850 Third Avenue. The sandwiches are both flavorful and filling. We enjoyed the Cuban Sandwich, which paired roasted pork with smoked ham, topping both with Swiss cheese, housemade pickles and aioli, and the Buttermilk Channel Crispy Chicken Sandwich spiked with smoked jalapenos and basil cilantro mayo,as well as the flame-grilled burger, an American classic prepared with flair.