Dining on a Dime’s return to New York City rolls along with a visit to the Upper West Side, and one of the city’s most singular dining traditions: the Cuban-Chinese restaurant. This week, host Lucas Peterson heads to La Caridad, which has served the neighborhood for decades, specializing in both Cuban and Chinese cuisine — and sometimes a mixture of the two.
Chinese immigrants stared moving to Cuba in the mid-19th century. Tens of thousands of laborers, almost entirely men, landed in Cuba in search of work and better conditions. Many of them then fled following the 1953 Cuban revolution and Castro’s subsequent assumption of power. Some ended up in nearby Florida, but a handful settled in New York and opened restaurants. Many of these ethnic Chinese (who were fully fluent in Spanish and familiar with Cuban cooking) opened restaurants like La Caridad. A typical meal could consist of wonton soup along with rice and beans or ropa vieja — a truly distinct combination of flavors that makes La Caridad unique.