Beyond the hip dining scene taking hold around town, there is a sea of stalwart options that reflect Newburgh’s rich diversity. The Latin food scene is especially prominent, anchored by the three Dons: Don Fernando, Don Pedro, and Don Hugo.
Don Fernando’s, at 362 Broadway, serves Peruvian cuisine in a laid-back but refined setting that works for lunch or dinner. The food may surprise you in its similarity to Chinese—Peru has the largest population of ethnic Chinese in Latin America. Dishes that reflect this cultural mix are referred to as Chifa. Chifa staples, like lomo saltado—a heaping stir-fry of beef, Peruvian peppers, onions, tomatoes, and a soy-sauce base—and chaufa (fried rice) are good introductions. After the Chifa, try the rotisserie chicken—the sweating, crisp-brown delectation has been drawing crowds since Don Fernando’s early days as a Chef in Lima. Once you graduate from those, take a cue from the regulars and ask for the day’s menú. For around $10, you will get a hardy soup—try the shrimp chowder on Fridays— with house-made sauces and a choice of two mains.
A few blocks away, at 295 Broadway, is owner Don Pedro’s restaurant, Los Portales, named after the arched structures that once provided sanctuary for Mexican nomads. Recent Mexican immigrants find comfort here, in Don Pedro’s home cooking. He and his wife started the business in the ’90s with no cooking experience, relying on their abuelita’s recipes for tacos. The menu has since grown to include the whole spectrum of Mexican comfort food. On Sundays, try the tacos de barbacoa—from locally sourced goat—or Don Pedro’s hangover recommendation of chilaques—chips in salsa verde topped with steak or fried eggs. Other potent options are the carnivorous plato campesino—grilled chicken, steak, chorizo, refried beans and cactus leaves—and the tortas and cemitas—hot Mexican sandwiches.
At 7 Bush Avenue, Don Hugo is serving up dangerously good Colombian soul food. The bandeja paisa is, hands down, the meal to order. It is the king of Colombian Creole dishes, comprising a gluttonous feast of rice, pork skin, broiled beef, plantains, egg, and avocado. Get the mini-paisa (unless you have the day off!). Each region of Colombia has its own hogao, also known as criolla sauce. Don Hugo learned his recipe for it from his mother. Try any of the meats grilled in it with a side of tostones, empanadas, or an arepa. Visit at lunchtime but call ahead, as Don Hugo operates by his own clock sometimes. Don’t blame him—you’d take a lot of naps, too, if you ate this well all the time.