I had two occasions where within a 24 hour period, I had lunch at El Margon on 46th St in midtown for some Cuban food, and then had something similar in Woodside Queens.
First, the roast chicken with rice/beans at Margon, then the chicken stew at JC Family in Woodside (former El Guaton). There's a lot of inconsistency at Margon, and my chicken was one of those bottom feeders in one of those extra large hotel pans, that was probably sitting there for a while. The chicken, while it tasted OK, was swimming in schmaltz and kind of mushy; rice and beans were pretty good, as usual. Later in the evening, I stopped by JC Family for the chicken stew, basically, a few pieces of chicken in a nice stew with rice and beans. The beans at JC are pretty marvelous -- smoky, tender, with a few stray elements of pork. While the rice is pretty plain, it's the perfect accompaniment for the beans. And the chicken is really flavorful, with a good hint of cilantro, onions, garlic, carrots, and some other herbs and spices. While my chicken meal at Margon was satisfactory, in comparison, the JC Family chicken rocked, as usual. This has become my source for a good cheap "comfort" meal in the neighborhood.
Another night recently, I stopped by El Sitio for a cuban sandwich, and I realized I haven't had one of these in ages, even though I pass by pretty often. It's pretty close to the quintessential cubano with some good tender roast pork, ham, cheese, pickle, and a good hint of garlic running through every bite. For lunch the next day, I decided to check out Margon, since I haven't had one of these in a while, and to no surprise, Margon's cubano really fell flat in comparison. No garlic. I find the salame slice in their sandwich kind of strange and not very good, and the pork doesn't taste that fresh. The sandwich guy at Margon is usually swamped during the lunch hour and makes about 15 at once, doing a crappy job of it as well. I still like Margon for their roast pork and the octopus salad, so I'll probably stick to those henceforth.
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