Had any good Garifuna food lately? Didn’t think so.
But Brian S has, after sniffing it out at Garifuna Star, a hopping community hangout in an under-Chowhounded corner of the South Bronx. What he found there was the soulful, seldom-discussed cuisine of the Garifuna, descendants of Africans and Amerindians who live mostly in Central America. The dish he tried, a happy marriage of Africa and the Americas, suggests that this is a cuisine—and a restaurant—well worth exploring.
For $15, Brian S enjoyed a three-part feast called machuca. On one plate was the machuca itself: a mash of boiled green plantain, much like fufu, the African cassava paste. Another plate brought a whole pan-fried red snapper. Part three was a stellar soup, rich and golden, made of coconut and spices, with four big shrimp at the bottom of the bowl—something like a Thai curry, or Brazil’s moqueca de camarao. Eat the soup by itself or dunk spoonfuls of machuca in it—either way, Brian S says, “A wonderful meal. True fusion cuisine.”
The best home cooking takes time, so expect a wait. You can also expect a happy, hungry crowd—part families spending time out, part guys enjoying a drink and the TV. But don’t expect to see a sign outside that says Garifuna Star. The awning still bears the name of the previous restaurant in this space.
Garifuna Star (formerly Lanichugu Garifuna) [Bronx]
640 Prospect Avenue (at E. 152nd Street), Bronx