Café Con Leche is an unusual restaurant in an unusual location.
This little restaurant on Main Street, in the hamlet of New Hamburg NY, is dishing out Puerto Rican food that is the real deal.
At first the menu may look limited, but you’ll find all the cornerstones of authentic Puerto Rican food--plenty of pork, plantains, fried goodies, chicharones and of course, café con leche.
We started out with the Taste of Puerto Rico Sampler, a big platter filled with alcapurrias, pastelilos, tostones, and maduros. If that’s all a mystery to you, it was to me too. The alcapurrias were fritters made from plantains and stuffed with a ground beef mixture before being deep fried.
Pastelilos are very much like an empanada, and at Café Con Leche, come filled with your choice of beef, beef and cheese, shrimp or roast pork and the café’s “secret sauce”. We went for the beef and they were just what we hoped them to be, delicious!
Tostones are green plantains, that are flattened and fried while maduros are what most people think of when they think of fried plantains, fried using sweet plantains. The tostones are twice fried and not sweet. These came with a slightly spicy, creamy pink dipping sauce on the side. The night we were there, they substituted yuca fries for the maduros, so we had a wider variety of fried food. Yuca fries are very similar to potato fries but a little less starchy in my opinion. They were crispy on the outside and tasted good with the dipping sauce too.
Keeping on the fried theme, we ordered the chicken chicharones with white rice and beans. There was a heaping pile of golden fried chicken chunks, which really came to life when the lime wedges that accompanied them were put to use. The rice and beans were very traditional, made with small pink beans, green olives, adobo seasonings and just enough garlic. Janet, whose married name just happens to be Irizarry, said it was just like her husband’s Aunt Dora used to make for him. All I know is that it was so good!
Our other main dish was the pernil---slow roasted pork which is seasoned with adobo and garlic until it is fall-apart tender. We agreed that that pernil had to be our favorite Puerto Rican dish, and Café Con Leche’s did not disappoint! The secret to good pernil is that the garlic is there but not overpowering.The other notable thing was how lean the meat was. It was served with yellow rice and pigeon peas. The flavor profiles were spot on and the crispy fried pork skin as garnish added another nice touch.
Janet also recommends the Mofongo, which she had on a previous visit. Monfongo is made with green plantains, mashed and seasoned with garlic, broth, salt and olive oil to end up with sort of a mashed potato consistency. The day Janet had it she ordered with shrimp.
No desserts were necessary for us after dinner. The portions are large, so both our husbands had a great lunch the following day.
Don't expect anything fancy when you go to Cafe Con Leche, the interior is fairly nondescript but that also adds to the charm. What you can expect is friendly service and food that no matter how full you are, will have you leaving thinking about when you are going to return.
On a side note, we are rooting for you on October 21 Cafe Con Leche!
10 Main Street
Wappingers Falls, NY