On an earlier walk through Jersey City, I noticed the end of the awning over Brisas del Valle, which immediately gives up the identity of the cuisine inside with the stars and colors of the flag of Honduras. Inside the small storefront, which could be mistaken as closed if not for the front door being open, a small square room is painted orange and has one small window to the kitchen. There is no menu, but the friendly face inside the window will list all the dishes available on any given day.
After selecting a dish, pick one of four tables at the casual workaday lunch counter and enjoy the scenery. When I sat down on a Friday just after noon, I was the only customer, but a few came and went with takeout orders eventually.
The name of the restaurant alludes to the winds that run through one of Honduras' many beautiful valleys. When I went traveling through Central America I had the good fortune to visit the Valle de Angeles that runs near Tegucigalpa. For people that live in the city, the valleys have the same sort of escape as New Yorkers feel about upstate mountains or Long Island beaches, a place to go for fresh air and relaxation. [When writing this, I spoke to the friend who took me there and learned that it is now clogged with cars and people and has lost some of its allure. The world is the same everywhere.]
Back in the small dining room of a side street in Jersey City, I tried remembering this fresh air but was unsuccessful. It is definitely my type of place though, casual and welcoming.
The large plate of carne asada ($10, below) that arrived in front of me was beautiful, with no essential part of a typical Honduran meal left out. The meat is served with rice and beans, a wedge of avocado, a good-sized hunk of quesillo, and a plate of homemade corn tortillas.
When eating in Honduras, many plates I had at restaurants or homes looked similar to this. The avocado and cheese were never missing, which I definitely got used to. This is most certainly a plato tipico.
Here at Brisas del Valle, the cuts of meat are not all that great, but it is the sort of thing you can take a photo of and send to your friend in Tegucigalpa, making them immediately hungry even though they can get it everyday. Now the area just needs a Honduran restaurant that can set up an anafre, a dish named after the clay pot that melts cheese, beans, chorizo, and whatever else you load it with into a delicious dip for chips.