Opening in New York’s vibrant Chelsea neighborhood, La Central is the new Latin American restaurant from Chef/Partner Franklin Becker located at the neighborhood’s modern Hotel Americano.
Inspired by the rich cuisine of Central and South America, with a special focus on bountiful dishes from Mexico City, the concept behind La Central is a collaborative project between Chef Becker, Executive Chef Joseph Abbruzzese (Fusco, Marea), Chef de Cuisine Carlos Cartagena, Pastry Chef Cesar Moreno and the restaurant’s kitchen staff, some of whom have contributed recipes from their native countries. The menu intertwines bold flavors and cooking techniques from the different cultures of Mexico, Peru and El Salvador, among others, and incorporates some Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Japanese influences from these countries’ early settlers.
“There is something really special about celebrating all the different food from Latin America,” says Chef Becker. “When I was thinking about the concept for La Central, I kept coming back to that culture of community and deep-rooted family tradition that is so strong within Latin America. This inspired the idea of building a collaborative menu where anyone who works at the restaurant (at any level) can contribute a dish, working together to perfect it for our guests.”
La Central’s dishes include small plates, vegetable-forward appetizers and sides, a section of different taco variations, and mains and beautifully presented large-format entrees. Some highlights include Savory Churros (garlic-jalapeno butter, queso); Octopus Carnitas (avocado, sesame-peanut pipian, chicharron); Empanadas Colombianas (potato, aji, lime); Crunchy Cod Tacos (red cabbage, chipotle aioli); Arbol Spiced Chicken; and Mariscos en Caldo de Camarones (shellfish in spicy shrimp broth) made for two. Contributions from the kitchen team include Chef de Cuisine Carlos Cartagena’s Mushroom & Winter Squash Papusas, a dish he grew up cooking in El Salvador, while Peruvian native Junior Sous Chef Marco Castro is making a Peruvian Arroz Chaufa with duck confit, scallions and egg. Named after Line Cook Roberto Martinez, Roberto’s Enchiladas are served with chicken, salsa verde, crema and queso fresco.
Finally, every table in the dining room receives an array of Homemade Mexican Salsas contributed by Line Cook Lucero Gutierrez, recipes that have been handed down to her by her great grandmother. La Central’s beverage program is overseen by Michael Parish (Broken Shaker, Prime Italian), and focuses heavily on South and Latin American spirits, namely tequila, mezcal, cachaça and pisco, combined with fresh fruits and vegetables. Highlights from the cocktail menu include Smoke & Fire (cachaça, charred pineapple, taijin “cured” lime, cane sugar); Abuela’s Secret (pisco, aperol, grapefruit, honey, lemon, egg white); and Doctor’s Orders (mezcal, blanco tequila, carrots, lime, chili salt). The 50-seat restaurant will occupy a modern yet inviting space accented by clean lines, sleek marble dining tables, and a neutral color palette that allows the bold and pronounced flavors to take center stage.
The venue also boasts a year-round heated outdoor patio that seats 35 guests.
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