A few weeks ago I found myself with a day off and no plans. I grabbed my camera and hopped on the F train with no real plans. As the train left the station I decided on a whim that I’d visit Sunset Park, a neighborhood I’ve heard a lot about on just about every food blog. I switched to the R train and got off at 45th Street. Not really knowing where anything was, after visiting the park I traveled up and down 5th Avenue, and then headed west to 4th and 5th. When I got home I found out that there’s a lot more stuff to the EAST. Oh well, there’s always a next time. In any case I did get to eat one of the greatest things I’ve ever eaten.
It was at my fist stop, a Dominican bakery called La Gran Via. I spotted it in the bake case right away, and I asked what it was. “Tres leches bread pudding,” was the answer. I almost swooned. The bread pudding was moist, dense, custardy, creamy, sweet, and truly one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth (hey now).
Unfortunately it was all down hill from there. I wandered around looking for something more substantial; if I weren’t a vegetarian I could have stopped in any number of places, but I am, so there you go. I finally stopped in yet another bakery, Cafe Con Pan Bakery Corp. They had a nice looking selection, and I got a pineapple pastry. The pastry was too soft and too bread-like, though the pineapple interior was nice and tart and not too sweet. While eating it I noticed this kick-ass mural on a wall near where some guys were selling fruit out of the back of a truck.
I headed over to 4th Ave, where I found a few more restaurants. I saw Don Paco Lopez and thought I had finally found what i was looking for. The menu was huge, and I began to order a huarache and a quesadilla with huitlacoche, when the counter man interrupted me. “Only tortas today.” I must have looked dumbfounded, because after a moment he asked, “You want a torta?”
The torta con queso is made like this: on the bottom half of a roll smear some beans, some mayo, some fresh avocado, pile on some cheese, some onion, some tomato, and some pickled jalapenos. Put the top of the roll on, pop it in the microwave for 40 seconds, and you’re done. I grabbed a guayaba Jarritos soda and sat down to eat.
The torta was pretty good, though not amazing. The many slimy ingredients worked surprisingly well together, and the onions and jalapenos added some nice spice and texture. The soda was disappointing, though I’m not sure what I was expecting from something so shockingly and unnaturally pink.
After eating I wandered farther east, down to 3rd Ave, but didn’t see any place I wanted to eat. I walked back over to 5th, and then down to 25th St, where I got back on the train. When I got home I looked up where the ethnic Asian restaurants that I had heard some much about were. That’s when I discovered I had gone in the wrong direction. At least I have a better plan the next time I go to Sunset Park.
La Gran Via Bakery — 4516 5th Ave, Brooklyn
Cafe Con Pan Bakery — 5401 5th Ave, Brooklyn
Don Paco Lopez — 4703 4th Ave, Brooklyn