A bastion of Puerto Rican culture in New York City, East Harlem has long been one of the Big Apple's "port-of-call" for many immigrants throughout its rich history.
After World War II, Puerto Rican immigrants made East Harlem their home, birthing the enclave that would come to be known as Spanish Harlem or, more affectionately among Latinos, as "El Barrio." And it was on the corner of 106th Street and Third Avenue that a small unassuming luncheonette called 'George & Ginas' was to make history. Puerto Rican native, Virgenes Diaz, or 'Gina' as she was affectionately known, had owned several successful eateries in the neighborhood. But it was this one -- her last one -- which would become the home to the best Puerto Rican cooking in NYC.
George and Gina's became La Fonda Boricua in 1996 when Jorge Ayala purchased the quiet lunch spot and turned it into a vibrant local favorite.
Working closely with his kitchen crew, Jorge preserved many of the restaurant's traditional dishes and added a few of his own. Then half its current size, La Fonda Boricua would become a favorite among local residents and citywide Latinos who yearned for a place where their food and culture could proudly take center stage.
Under Jorge's stewardship, La Fonda grew in notoriety, welcoming visitors from all over the globe in search of great home-style Puerto Rican cooking and Boricua hospitality. La Fonda has been featured on the Food Network's "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" and the Travel Channel's "Man versus Food," and has welcomed countless celebrities who never miss the opportunity to get La Fonda's sofrito-rich stews when in town.
From 2008 to 2011, La Fonda Boricua opened a sister bar and restaurant across the street from the Fonda Boricua called the FB Lounge.
Offering an exciting menu of both the new and the traditional, the Lounge continued in the Fonda tradition of combining great food, music and art in El Barrio. Assisted by Jorge's brother, Roberto Ayala, the FB Lounge became home to some of the most authentic live improvisational afro-caribbean and Latin music being played in New York City. However, despite its critical success and popularity, the FB Lounge was forced to close its doors in the wake of the world financial crisis.
Now under new management, La Fonda is once again working hard to bring El Barrio and lovers of good food everywhere, the best Puerto Rican cooking around. The classics are still here: pernil, mofongo, ensalada de bacalao, pollo guisado and the best rice and beans in town. And there are new dishes as well, like our chuletas kan kan, chillo frito and our salmon in passion-fruit sauce.
We hope you'll come back soon for the vibrant flavors, exciting music and wonderfully rich, original art that's always on display. Here, in that same humble spot that has fed so many for so long. And only the walls know their number.