Mamajuana Cafe in Washington Heights

Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz, about a cute spot up in WH on Dyckman Street, called Mamajuana Cafe. Migui and her good friend, Walewska, had happened upon it, and it turned out that one of the amazing waiters was an ex co-worker of Migui’s (there’s probably no one in the business she doesn’t know!). She in turn, told me that it looked like it merited a closer look, and she was willing to take the bullet for this one, trooper that she is!

Right around the time that Migui was set to visit Mamajuana, we ran into Executive Chef Ricardo Cardona from another uptown gem, 809, quite by accident at another event, and were thrilled to learn that he was a consultant for the Mamajuana Cafe menu . He suggested we pay a visit, and so we set out last night; Migui, her sister Wendy, their close friend Walewska, and yours truly decided to make an evening of it.

We were given menus that start out with a nice selection of Picoteos (snacks or bites). We ordered the pulpo salad (bright, citrusy, and delicious), the piquillo peppers stuffed with crabmeat served on a puddle of saffron sauce (I briefly considered taking an order of this back home for Jerry…that’s how delicious it was!), the paella croquettes (a special for the day…did not disappoint), a charcuteria board with cured meats and cheeses (Waleska does not feel she has eaten unless she has her serving of salchichon!), and a white coca which was bubbling with gooey manchego, mahon, mozzerella, and queso blanco on a crisp thin crust that snapped when you bit into it. I could have easily made a meal out of that coca.

Pulpo Salad

Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Crabmeat

Paella Croquettes


I could have easily called it an evening, but these girls are serious when it comes to good food. Waleska was adamant that she and Wendy share an order of the “Puerquito”, and Migui said it would be a shame if I didn’t taste it, because it was as close to a religious experience as she’s ever had outside Church! Okay, I’m sold, but let’s order one more entree so I can gauge the course a bit better. Our waitress advised that there was a great special today of red snapper stuffed with spicy shellfish and served atop coconut rice. STOP THE WORLD, I’M GETTING OFF!!! The entrees were served with rice with pigeon peas, and we ordered some yuca fries. I rolled up my sleeves and was ready to go!

First of all, the “puerquito” is a misnomer…it should be called “puercaso” because to me it looked like half a pernil! There is no way humanly possible that one human being could consume that amount of meat. That being said, when it was served to us, we let out a communal “aaahhhhh” that could be heard from across the room. The skin was crispy and delicious, the meat fragrant and juicy (nothing turns me off faster than dry pernil), and the pickled red onions that were served on top offered the perfect brine for the unctuousness of the meat. The side of arroz con gandules was unremarkable, but the yuca fries were to die for, with Wendy remarking that maybe it was a yuca/potato blend, because they did not get dry and hard as they cooled.

“Puerquito with arroz con gandules”

I was in the happy zone for sure when they brought out the evening’s surprise: The Red Snapper Special. I found the delicateness of the fish the perfect frame for the spicy seafood salad of shrimp, bay scallops, and calamari…but then your fork hits a sweet spot under the fish and comes away with flakes of fish, spicy salad, and a white rice flavored with coconut milk that was as delicious as any I have tasted at Mami’s table! It was Carnivale in my mouth!! I love when a dish balances aroma, color, taste and texture like that!

Red Snapper stuffed with Crabmeant on Coconut Rice

Yuca fries with mojito de ajo

I’m not much of a “sweets” person, but this had been such a hit so far, I couldn’t leave without the round robin, so we ordered Tres Leches (light cake, creamy sauce, not too sweet), with Budin de pan (bread pudding) with dulce de leche ice cream ( I thought the spice notes could have been a bit more pronounced, but the texture was good) and a special platter of three different flans:coffee, coconut and classic accompanied by a mini budin (the flans were lovely).

I found Mamajuana a great evening out, the food memorable, and the atmosphere unpretentious and cozy. Definately give it a try the next time you get an itch for a little something Dominican!

Mamajuana Cafe
247 Dyckman St Between Seaman and Payson st
New York, NY, 10034
Office (212) 304-1217 Reservations (212) 304-0141


10 Responses to “Mamajuana Cafe in Washington Heights”

  1. 1 rodney January 6, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    Oh My, I think I need to plan another trip to New York. I swear it took me 3 times to see the name right though. Mamajuana was not the first thought that came to mind.
    Guess I’m still a guerro.


  2. 2 daisy January 7, 2007 at 12:14 am

    Well, you are still a guero, but I’ll give it to you, mamajuana is a mouthful….


  3. 3 Wendy January 8, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    Lindas ninas Daisy, y estas fotos? por favor….. Tu y Migui salieron como unas estrellas pero yo por mi parte ‘toy “fea pa’ la foto”!!. La pasamos maravilloso!!! “Mucho gusto”!!…….

  4. 4 migui January 8, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    bueno….”ese es ella dona”……que usted quiere?

  5. 5 daisy January 8, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    Que bien, Wendy…don’t be a playa haytah!! Girl!! the last time I had that much fun, I almost got arrested!! (j/k)

  6. 6 Richard January 10, 2007 at 2:58 am

    Don’t you and Migui look yummy!

    I’ve got to get back to the City and taste some of this food!

    Peace your way …


  7. 7 daisy January 10, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Yes we do love!

    Next time you are in NYC we will go there…

  8. 8 lianna January 22, 2007 at 12:25 am

    I’m definitely checking this place out! the food looks absolutely delicious!

  9. 9 daisy January 22, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Lianna, you seriously should! It is not only delicious, but beautiful; nice crowd and ambiance.

    Let me know how it goes!


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