Friday, July 2, 2010


As much as I like to try the occasional high end, expensive restaurants, I usually prefer to go to the hole-in-the-wall places. If you looked up "hole-in-the-wall" in the dictionary, I'm pretty sure you'd find a picture of La Nueva Conquista. LNC, as I affectionately refer to it, has no decorations, no air conditioning, and only a few stools to sit on. The review outside calls it "gritty," which is an extremely kind euphemism for dirty. But I'm definitely not complaining; what LNC may lack in ambiance and cleanliness it more than makes up for in the food department. For $8, you can get a plate of food large enough to split between lunch and dinner. Each plate consists of a choice of meat (chicken, pork or beef), rice (yellow or brown), beans (black or red) and fried plantains. I went with the roasted pork, brown rice, and black beans.

I've never really understood the appeal of beans and rice. On the one hand, they're just beans and rice. You cant really mess them up. On the other hand, they're such staple foods that its hard to make them special. However, La Nueva Conquista proved me wrong. Their rice and beans are so full of complex flavors that I couldn't stop eating the dish! The roast pork, on the other hand, was hit or miss. On the whole the meat was a bit dry but the pieces that were moist were quite tasty. I like how they are not stingy with their food. You get a heaping plate in exchange for pocket change and the wait in line. I now I understand why the lines out their door exist- and why they usually run out of food before 6pm!

Lists are on the top of my non-food "things I love" items (among English bulldogs, YSL, the tv show House, soy chai lattes and the UNC basketball team- Go Heels!) I have Time Out New York's 2007-2009 "100 Best Things to Eat" taped to my refrigerator door. La Nueva Conquista's arroz con habichuelas (rice and beans for you non-Spanish speaking folks) was on the 2007 list. As soon as I finished my LNC lunch, I wobbled home and crossed off the restaurant with a deliriously happy sense of accomplishment. Then I laid back on my couch with a Latin American food baby in my stomach and enjoyed my food coma. All in a days work.