Home to Yankee Stadium and the Bronx court system, the area around the subway stop at 161 St.-Yankee Stadium/River Ave. has always been a unique mix of baseball-themed bars and quick-serve kitchens for government employees on a budget and in a rush. There are also places like these three, local favorites that those who work and live nearby keep going back to.
West African outlet
Like many West African restaurants, there are typically only a handful dishes available during the daytime atNabayain the Melrose neighborhood of the Bronx. So either go with an open mind or call ahead. The options are usually rich, deeply flavored sauces filled out with a few vegetables and poured over chicken, fish, or lamb, all served in patterned soup bowls with a platter of rice topped with a cooked Scotch bonnet chili meant to provide spice as needed.
One common lunch option is the “tomato stew” ($10), or sauce claire in African-French, which is deep red with tomatoes cooked down for hours. Another in regular rotation is the bright orange “palm stew” ($10), or sauce graine, made with thick palm nut cream made from pressing the seeds from West African palms.
On the side, try a bottle of sweet purple sorrel-ade, made from hibiscus flower, or an extra spicy ginger juice (both $3), sometimes served so cold it’s almost a ginger slushie.
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Nabaya: 860 Melrose Ave., at E. 160th St., Bronx; (718) 401-2283
Food to-go, stay, or cook
There are three ways to approach San José Tulcingo in Concourse Village as a customer. There’s a market for Mexican pantry essentials like masa and chilis on one side, a Mexican restaurant on the other, and in between, a deli counter with tacos, enchiladas and other taqueria takeout.
The savvy diner will head straight to a table by the kitchen, which serves the same tacos and takeout, but also a short list of homey, central Mexican style soups and specials.
Those include pretty tri-color platters served with seasoned rice, perfectly soupy pink beans and stews like pipian pollo, or chicken legs and thighs smothered in a bright green, full-bodied sauce whose key ingredient is silky pureed pepitas, or nutty pumpkin seeds ($12.95 for the platter).
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Bone-in chicken in mole poblano is also beautiful: This earthy sauce — a mix of spices, mild chilis, and chocolate — gets speckled with sesame seeds ($12.95). There are also chunky pork ribs ($13.95), or costillas, swimming in salsa verde made extra tart with fresh herbs.
San José Tulcingo: 109 E. 153rd St., at River Ave., Bronx; (917) 631-9253
Jamaican and Southern mashup
Though many people would probably tell you that it’s meaty things like fried chicken and fish, curry goat, pepper steak, or red snapper that bring them to Flavas International Grill, a Jamaican and Southern style shop in Concourse Village, the ample supply of vegetables is just as notable.
There are nearly a dozen to choose from, but standouts include soft Southern-style stewed string beans, big white butter beans with sweet peppers, plus collards, cabbage, okra and tomatoes, or candied yams. (Not to mention the juice bar.)
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On weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., hearty lunch specials go for $7.49 to $11.95, all served with a heaping spoonful of any vegetable and a side like mac and cheese, sweet plantains, or rice and peas. At dinner, not-so-small small combos ($9.95 to $16.95) come with any two sides, and giant large combos come with any three.
Flavas International Grill: 854 Gerard Ave., near E. 161st St.; Bronx; (718) 292-2900
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