Where Are All the Puerto Rican Restaurants in New York?

Mexican, Cuban, and Spanish food can all be found on the menus of swanky restaurants, but Puerto Rican food rarely.

This is true even in New York, where many Puerto Ricans have lived for decades. One can find Puerto Rican food in places serving cuchifritos, or fried pork entrails, to working-class people, but not in midtown fine-dining establishments. Why?

In Latinos: A Biography of the People, Earl Shorris claims the reason lies in the prejudices of middle-class Anglo customers.

When Anglos dine out, says Shorris, they want not just food but symbols. Mexican food symbolizes the conquest and settlement of the great Southwest.

Spain and Cuba are viewed as essentially European countries, linking the diner to the European past. But Puerto Rico symbolizes poverty and an unwanted racial mixture.

“Puerto Ricans can’t sell their food to Anglos at any price,” he says.