Street life is intense along 145th St. in Hamilton Heights, especially where the B train crosses its path at St. Nicholas Ave. Even in the depths of winter, semi-professional vendors set out folding tables on the corner and people hang outside and confab as if it were summer. When it’s time for lunch, grab refreshment from one of these three standing-room-only takeout spots and head back outside.
You can still get a ham and cheese hero at this spacious bodega that until a few weeks ago was called Mr. Sandwich. But the Galvez family has renovated the store — now known as 4 Brothers Food Market & Deli — adding Mexican pantry items to their shelves and Mexican cuisine to the deli counter.
For now, they are starting off slow with $2.50 tacos, $5 Mexican sandwiches called tortas, plus burritos and quesadillas. In the weeks to come, the family plans to expand the kitchen side of things to add a steam table with more hot prepared Mexican food, and maybe even seating.
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4 Brothers Food Market & Deli: 1712 Amsterdam Ave., near 145th St., (212) 234-5547
Fried whiting has always been the star of Famous Fish Market, a shoebox-sized operation that’s been serving paper boats stacked with it to-go since 1974.
But owner Sterling Strickland — who took over the business from his aunt Eloise Cherry and her husband Al two decades ago this year — is almost as proud of his frying oil.
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Unlike so many other fried seafood spots, Strickland changes the vegetable oil out of the fryer every single day, he says, even on slow days. A slow day at Famous Fish Market being one where the the line only reaches the door, not the subway station on the corner. (In fact, Famous was originally called Subway Seafood.)
Some of his customers even come “get that first drop,” says Strickland, meaning the very first fish fried in the day’s pristine new oil. (Some, he adds, prefer the flavor at the end of the day.)
With a business as streamlined as Strickland’s — the menu is essentially various combinations of fried tail-on shrimp, fried clam strips, fried fish filets, French fries, condiments, and slices of soft whole wheat bread for $6.50 to $14.50 — details are important. Seafood is delivered daily, everything is cooked only to-order, there’s no seating and no credit cards, and the fish is still fried in an extra peppery coating that Al Cherry created on “day one,” says Strickland.
“We have the K.I.S.S. method,” he says. “Keep it simple, stupid.”
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Famous Fish Market: 684 St. Nicholas Ave., near 145th St., (212) 491-8323
That patty place
For at least 30 years, 1 Stop Patty Shop has been a takeout go-to for savory Jamaican patties and Caribbean sweets in Hamilton Heights. For $2.50, you can leave with a bright orange patty from Royal Caribbean Bakery in traditional flavors like jerk chicken or spicy beef, or get the patties tucked into the soft yeast rolls called coco bread for an extra $1.
For those seeking patties with even more personality, current owner Patrick Edwards — who also sells $4.75 pints of Jamaican chicken soup with dumplings, squash, potato, and plenty of black pepper — also stocks vegan patties made by D Ital Shak in Brooklyn. These extra-flaky rectangles are $3.50 a pop and stuffed with well-seasoned meat- and dairy-free options like the Caribbean fruit called ackee, lentils, split peas, or callaloo.
1 Stop Patty Shop: 1708 Amsterdam Ave., near 145th St., (212) 491-7466
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