Chocobar Cortés, a Beloved Restaurant From San Juan, Heads for the Bronx – •

Richard Morgan (The New York Occasions) writes about Chocobar Cortés and Chocobar Cortés NYC, explaining that Cortés, a family-owned chocolate maker in Puerto Rico, is opening a location in Mott Haven, “banking on native nostalgia for the model.” It could have been fascinating to focus on Puerto Rico’s scorching chocolate custom (hailing from Spain), however the writer does underline the cultural significance of the Chocolate Cortés model.

When New Yorkers hunt for well-made chocolate, they go far past the tourist-clogged Hershey and M&M shops in Occasions Sq. to a wealth of purveyors in each borough. Carlos Cortés, the artistic director of a 92-year-old family-owned chocolate firm in Puerto Rico, hopes to create a brand new vacation spot for chocolate lovers within the Bronx.

On Friday, Chocobar Cortés plans to open its first brick-and-mortar location on america mainland, Chocobar Cortés NYC, on a busy block within the Mott Haven neighborhood. The restaurant and cafe might be not solely an enlargement, but in addition a reconnection with the Puerto Rican diaspora. “We need to begin the place our neighborhood is, after which develop from there,” mentioned Mr. Cortés, 34, the scion of the bean-to-bar firm, which additionally operates within the Dominican Republic.

Mr. Cortés, who attended Columbia and New York College, mentioned he selected Mott Haven due to its current spurt of growth, its massive Puerto Rican and Dominican populations and its proximity to related communities in Inwood, Spanish Harlem and Washington Heights. (One in six New Yorkers is both Puerto Rican or Dominican, however within the Bronx that quantity soars to just about one in two.) “The Bronx is altering, and we’re right here to be part of it,” he mentioned.

The unique Chocobar Cortés restaurant, which opened in 2013 on a central thoroughfare in Outdated San Juan, routinely tops overview and journey websites. (It was USA As we speak’s prime Caribbean restaurant in 2017.) When Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York visited San Juan in November, Chocobar was considered one of her first stops.

Within the Dominican Republic, Cortés has cocoa plantations and a well-liked model, Embajador, that makes use of the Cortés emblem. A customer heart, with a restaurant led by Ricardo de Obaldía, the chef of the Chocobar in San Juan, opened in September at a Cortés manufacturing facility in Santo Domingo.

The Bronx restaurant, modeled after the San Juan location, continues the corporate’s custom of utilizing chocolate in assorted and infrequently shocking methods. Its in depth menu contains an array of 10 scorching goodies; grilled cheese sandwiches with chocolate butter; burgers with chocolate ketchup; Bloody Marys made with chocolate bitters; serrano-Manchego croquettes with chocolate dipping sauce; and chalupitas de mofongo with grated chocolate guacamole.

There are steaks and hen seasoned with chocolate rub, eggs sprinkled with chocolate salt and even salads wearing chocolate French dressing. A practice from rural Puerto Rico pairs scorching chocolate with Cheddar. The general impact has a Willy Wonka giddiness.

“It’s important to see chocolate as a condiment and never as a sweet,” mentioned Maria Martínez, the chef of Chocobar Cortés NYC, who was born in Brooklyn however raised in Quebradillas, in northwest Puerto Rico. Her mofongo at Café Ghia, a Bushwick, Brooklyn, restaurant that closed in 2017, commonly drew lengthy traces each morning.

In a cellphone interview from his residence in San Juan, Ignacio Cortés, Carlos’s father and the corporate’s chief govt, mentioned Cortés chocolate has been accessible in america in scattered groceries and bodegas since 1951, and is now distributed in 20 states. “We’re a reference for the primary and second generations who got here to New York,” he mentioned, “a reference to what they left and what they lengthy for.”

Pablo García Smith, who affords meals excursions of San Juan, mentioned that Chocobar serves as “a generational bridge,” linking abuelas with younger individuals and Instagram influencers. “The eating places — in San Juan and now in New York — shut the loop of nostalgia.” (Final summer time, Cortés bought chocolate bars wrapped in comedian strips of La Borinqueña, an Afro-Puerto Rican superhero created in 2016.)

The Mott Haven neighborhood has skilled a rush of growth from inside the neighborhood, or “gentefication,” from the Spanish phrase “gente” (individuals). Chocobar shares a block with the Lit. Bar, a wine bar and a much-needed bookstore; Beatstro, a hip-hop bistro that hosts break-dancing battles; Well-known Nobodys, a streetwear boutique; and the Thinkubator, a job coaching nonprofit that’s about to open a restaurant. [. . .]

For full article, see

Many because of Peter Jordens for added info and hyperlinks:

Chocobar Cortés
141 Alexander Ave, South Bronx, New York 10454

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