Walking to a kid-furniture shop in West New York (NJ), we walked past a tiny restaurant called La Vasija de Barro.
Looked in and found a few well-dressed Ecuadorian families eating a whole range of unusual and excellent-looking food. They didn't mind me looking hungrily over their shoulder, and happily informed me about the various items they were eating.
Though I'd eaten just two hours previously,we could not help ordering hayacas - superb corn meal tamales made with chicken and chickpeas and sweet corn meal. The accompanying sauce, freshly mae with chili, coriander, onion, and tomato was a bit of a revelation.
We also had a couple of empanadas. Now, I live near some really top-notch Cuban and PR places, which pride themselves on empanadas. These empanadas at Vasija de Barro, however, made those offerings taste prefab. You think I'm exaggerating? I demand that Leff (and whoever else here considers themselves a top-dog chowhound) goes and tries these.
There is more. I will post more on this place, which has made my month. But let me just close by saying that the atmosphere is 100% the real deal as well, this is the kind of place that in Ecuador would be a word-of-mouth hangout for the extremely hip and arty. Hell, in godforsaken West New York it is the hangout of the Ecuadorians who are extremely hip and arty.
Check it out. I demand my Chowhound props in advance for finding this place and alerting you all.