Thursday, June 30, 2016


Hangover buster: fish soup $2.50
Flounder, shrimp, scallops and chips $7.50
Clams and oysters are a buck each
THE BEST THING about living in the city is that you don't have to have a bundle of cash to find good grub and feel like you're eating like a local in some faraway place. One of my favored destinations on my weekend walks from Maspeth is a hole-in-the-wall in Jackson Heights that serves fresh seafood for almost nothing. On top of their menu, for me, is the fish soup (I'm guessing whiting with broth made from scraps of all the fish they sell) with rice, diced potatoes, carrots, onions and celery that's only $2.50 a cup and is a meal in itself. They don't have ceviche, but they have fresh oysters and clams for a dollar each, and wedges of refreshing lime gratis. The owner is Korean, the crew is Jackson Heights Hispanic (maybe Colombian or Ecuadorian), the clientele is migrant Latino, and the cable channel is Telemundo. In the rear yard, an FM radio blares with the rhythm of salsa while a playful crew scales and shucks, guts and cuts, sweeps and hoses blood, scales, guts and gills down a gutter. You grab a stool by the dining counter behind a glass wall facing Roosevelt Avenue and watch Hispanic Queens go by: a cellophane-gloved gordita pares pineapples for her fruit stand; a paisano pushes his stolen shopping cart with a portable charcoal grill on it; an arrogant cop slaps traffic tickets on overstaying cars parked by the curb. The room is heavy with the smell of frying fish, and as the hangover is killed by the scalding soup, you feel like you're in a market restaurant somewhere in Lima or Veracruz or Guayaquil, no tips required. Amazing to think that in a half-hour, you will be browsing around Best Buy for electronics that are on sale. Ta bien, amigos!

Jose Fish Market, 81-04 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights, NY 11372 (718) 478-0232

Grab a stool and imagine you're in Lima

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