New York Opening: Los Americanos

Between the likes of Bubby’s and Kitchenette, there’s a healthy selection of unhealthy selections in the triangle below Canal, but none is more rico or suave than Los Americanos, a pan-Latino comfort food spot from the folks behind neighborhood favorite Macao Trading Co.

Red leather banquettes, two-toned green tile floors (specifically, the tones of the Blue’s Clues guy’s shirt), and wood-paneled walls are vibrant enough to feel like the diner goes to Habana. A backlit selection of top-shelf tequilas and mezcals adds just enough modern swank to remind those waiting for a table that it’s still Tribeca. Also a reminder—the guacamole and plantain chips, which are a must to start, run a good $12. The top half of the menu offers a tour of Latino street fare, hitting pupusas, empanadas, and tacos. Another must is the pabellon arepa, with its shredded beef and rich maduros between two slices of a fried and crumbly Venezuelan corn cake. A generous goblet of poached octopus highlights the ceviches, blended with sliced red potatoes for added density.

The cocktail list deserves a thorough picking-over, but the house favorite, Under The Volcano, is a master blend of aroma and bite, thanks to its mezcal, rosemary, and jalapeño. Bottles of beer come from exotic locals—pop a Cristal from Peru—but our waitress insisted they’re safely refreshing (“The bartenders say they all taste like Bud Light.”)

The real glory of Los Americanos has to be its late-night menu. According to the owner, Billy Gilroy, “one guy in the kitchen” continues to crank out the aforementioned arepas, plates full of churros, and what has to be the best Cuban sandwich on the island of Manhattan, steadily until 4am. It may not be the cheapest of spots, but as one Gerardo Mejia once said, it’s the price you pay for being a gigolo. Rrrrrico.

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for Los Americanos, Bubby’s, Kitchenette, Macao Trading Co., Subscribe to the New York Happenings email newsletter; More by James Ramsay]

New York: Top 10 Pancakes

In his book Eat Me, notable flapjack flipper Kenny Shopsin writes of pancakes: “They are flour and milk drowned in butter and some form of sugar. They’re crap.” We love crap!

Clinton Street Baking Company (Lower East Side) – Even fashion x-rays throw carb-rexia to the wind for these scrumptious slapjacks. Blueberry buttermilk ‘cakes are the fairest of them all. Fluffy pillows of the nutritionally void. Unlike socks-n-sandals or back hair, it is totally acceptable to order a supper stack. ● Tom’s Restaurant (Prospect Heights) – Born back in ’36 and still rolling with the whippersnappers. Harvest pancakes studded with tryptophan BFFs cranberries and sweet corn — b.y.o. turkey gristle. Lemon ricotta with lime butter, famous banana walnut, boy. Free coffee, cookies, and lollipops while you wait. Old but spry. ● Public (Nolita) – Nerdy library gimmick can’t obfuscate simple beauty of coconut plus ricotta plus mango plus pancake. Pour out some ginger lime sizzurp. Books are for wussies and tropical fruit is for men. Save some room for kangaroo too.

Shopsin’s General Store (Lower East Side) – Much like cranky owner Kenny Shopsin, these pancake flavors are tripping balls. Mac and cheese, s’mores, butterscotch, the ever popular “slutty” — infused with the essence of stripper perfume, Parliament Lights, and pumpkin. Put years on your life by memorizing your order (“Tasty II”) before approaching diminutive Essex Street Market stall; the pancake Nazi don’t play. ● Balthazar (Soho) – Though scenetastic breakfast starts many a player’s day at McNally’s faux bistro original, apple cinnamon pancakes are for the people and thus only available during weekend brunch. Do like the tourists: smother it in maple syrup and don’t look back. Plus bowls of coffee to make your teeth grind. ● Norma’s (Midtown West) – Come early, leave poor. Burger Joint’s evil twin pumps out clever hotcakes — think lemon mousse, hot chestnut, dollops of Devonshire cream. A mere $20-plus per stack. Awesome place to squire treating in-laws. Just beware the OJ hustle: waiters swoop in with pitchers of spendy “fresh-squeezed” and fill you up before you can say boo. ● Sarabeth’s (Upper East Side) – Lemon and ricotta buttermilk delights — worth braving Connecticut’s embassy to the UES. Easy-listening jams and cozy pastel space puts a happy face on patrons’ rotting souls. Bring kids or rent some. Xoxo. ● Kitchenette (Tribeca) – Country kitchen with kitschy ‘50s charm and oh-so-modern ‘tude flips up griddle goodies galore. Four-grain ‘cakes come berried, lumberjacked (add two eggs and bacon), or Bridgehampton, baby — shrunk to silver dollar size and slathered in yogurt. For the alcoholics among us, available until 4:30 in the pm. ● Good Enough to Eat (Upper West Side) – Say it three times fast with a hangover: Peter Paul pancakes, please. Tongue twisters thankfully go down easier than ’09 Lohan with Belgian chocolate and coconut. Or opt for single, massive apple ‘jack decorated in cinnamon sugar and sour cream. Disarmingly friendly farmhouse may promote paranoia: There must be spit in my pink lemonade! Relax. ● Bubby’s (Tribeca) – Rib-stickin’ Southern cookin’—also the name for your belly after inhaling a stack of extra fluffy sour cream slapjacks. Banana walnut version claims to be sautéed, but doubtful your arteries can tell the difference. Perfect double shot of nostalgia and cholesterol. Is that Harvey Keitel?!