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La Caridad 78, Chinese-Cuban Immigrant-Emigrant Fare on the Upper West Side, Founded by Raphael Lee in 1968

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Sooner or later when hanging out on the Upper West Side, one of our group (usually someone who grew up there or used to live there) will always suggest we head over to La Caridad 78 for some sustenance. It is a Cuban and Chinese restaurant founded by Chinese immigrants to Cuba who later fled. This is not a fusion place. Oh, no, this is old school. Half of the menu is Cuban, and the other half is Chinese, and that is really how it should be. This is not a trendy place. It just pumps out solid food in extraordinary portions for the hard working folks (as well as the overpaid) on the Upper West Side. The small dining room could charitably be described as unadorned, but who really cares. The place bustles with local families, cab drivers, and everyone else who passes through the area. The tables are generally filled, but turn over quickly. I tend to favor the Cuban dishes, such as the Chuleta En Salsa De Soya (Pork Chop In Black Bean Sauce). Sure they were not thick, but there were at least 5 pork chops on this plate. Other dishes were similarly abundant. Do not be put off by the menu. Believe me, it looks odd. Almost jarring. Go with some friends. Order some plates to share with a few beers (very limited beer menu). This food is good; not great, just simple, generally well executed, plentiful, and affordable. Do not forget to check out the handwritten specials on 8 1/2 x 11 paper taped to the wall. We tried the Homemade Fried Dumplings and were glad we did. There are some pictures on their Facebook page (in addition to their website), if you are interested. Cash only.

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Apparently, this is one of the last Cuban Chinese places still in existance and this fading "genre" is pretty much as you describe. Growing up in NYC, I spent quite a bit of time eating in one of the many like this, my favorite being a place called Mi Chinita (later Sam Chinita) in what is now a trendy corner in Chelsea. There were many of them throughout Manhattan (but not anywhere else to my memory). Although not "fusion" (as you correctly state), they give/gave the opportunity to combine Chinese American dishes (noodle soup with raw egg on top is sorta Asian I guess... I know greasy lo mein is) with Latin American dishes (fried chicken pieces with garlic, rice & black beans) and you come away very happy. I actually wasnt aware that this place was still there, having no real reason to be on the UWS much any more. Thanks for the heads up.... I can foresee a visit very soon.

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This place is always on the radar for a pre-Beacon show, under $10 dinner. I find the "Latin" food to be much better than the Chinese stuff.

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This thread is a perfect mix of DC and NYC.

I love the mixture of members from both cities, the genre of Chinese-Cuban immigrants who emigrated (fled), the division (not fusion) of cuisines. I love that I learned something this evening that I didn't know anything about before I read it ten minutes ago. I love this website (and that's not any type of self-promotion - I genuinely love this website and its members). I had *no idea* that this genre of cuisine even existed until just now.

Thank you, all three of you, for posting here.

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As a kid growing up in Miami, all the Chinese restaurants I knew were run by "Chinos-Cubanos". Their restaurants were mainly Chinese as we had an overabundance of Cuban eateries, yet they all spoke my version of Castilian. They were also all originally from the Cantonese region of China. Nice to hear there are still some in New York.

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Since I'm almost 60, I have a somewhat more "longitudinal" experience with NYC restaurants and their histories. In the late '60s and early '70s, many of us left leaning students could think of nothing more romantic and appropriate than frequenting places that had both Chinese and Cuban pedigree (and were inexpensive). After all, these places represented revolt and revolution by 2 very current "People's Republics" (c'mon, cut us some slack... we were young and impressionable). Then we started going reasonably regularly and got into conversations with the staff and owners (several were small mom and pop places). Nothing could have brought us down faster from our zeal than hearing the heartbreaking stories of those who had to flee mainland China and then, after they settled in, had to flee Cuba as well. Sorta made us think a little. I've never stopped leaning left, but a little broader perspective didn't hurt any.

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Since I'm almost 60, I have a somewhat more "longitudinal" experience with NYC restaurants and their histories. In the late '60s and early '70s, many of us left leaning students could think of nothing more romantic and appropriate than frequenting places that had both Chinese and Cuban pedigree (and were inexpensive). After all, these places represented revolt and revolution by 2 very current "People's Republics" (c'mon, cut us some slack... we were young and impressionable). Then we started going reasonably regularly and got into conversations with the staff and owners (several were small mom and pop places). Nothing could have brought us down faster from our zeal than hearing the heartbreaking stories of those who had to flee mainland China and then, after they settled in, had to flee Cuba as well. Sorta made us think a little. I've never stopped leaning left, but a little broader perspective didn't hurt any.

Nicely said. Warmly received. Sometimes a little perspective is all you need.....

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So sad! On one trip to New York (wow, 10 years ago!!) I sought this place out and brought my friends to it. I forget how I'd heard about it -- this was way before I joined dr.com -- maybe Chowhound. I would have loved to return!!

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On 4/29/2012 at 1:44 PM, Steve R. said:

Since I'm almost 60...

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  And I thought I was old then, writing my aged perspective on this topic.

Well... its 8 years later and I'm well into my Medicare and Social Security days.

And I never did make it back there.

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