>> Ruinas de Copán | Eat the World NYC

25 February 2019

Ruinas de Copán


Come on the right Saturday night to Ruinas de Copán and you might walk into a performance by famous Honduran Garifuna band Bodoma, playing into the wee hours of the morning. Come a little earlier on that Saturday, after the lunch rush, and you might see the woman running the dining room also catering to her children, feeding the baby and letting an older son hook up a video console to one of the flat screens.

From breakfast in the morning until the early morning of the next day, this Mott Haven restaurant goes through quite a bit of change and caters to the needs of just about everyone. Besides Hondurans and Garifuna people (groups that have a lot of overlap), the restaurant has the entire neighborhood in mind and does offer other meals, but the focal points of the menu have a distinctly Honduran feel to them. The two photos on each side of the name on the restaurant's awning might best describe what is inside, the flag of Honduras, and a bucket of beers.

I was here for the flag and in that respect, the food. The antojito most synonymous with Honduras is certainly the baleada ($3, above and below). Here the fluffy tortilla steals the show as it should, the savory beans, cheese, and cream inside play backup. These beauties have an eating culture very similar to what tacos have in México, find them sold by vendors on the street, out of front windows in restaurants, or sit down for them at lunch and dinner.

Sometimes people will fill them with meats and make a more hearty meal, but I wanted to sample other things on the menu and opted for the simple.

While you are eating, even on a weekday afternoon, you will probably notice the full bar that centers the place. The steam table lives in the front, but the bar serves the back, where more dining tables and two billiard tables are situated. This is the space that is rearranged when love performances are going on, and the place where late nights are spent. They have beers from Honduras like Salva Vida (see below) and Port Royal, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

On Friday and Saturday night, Ruinas de Copán closes at 4am, allowing plenty of time for reveling. On this day I was happy to have the beer to accompany my late lunch, but I was more interested in the Honduran-style tamales and the sleepy daytime vibe. If a Mexican tamal is more masa than lard, a Honduran tamal ($3, below) is the opposite, and larger.

The interior is filled with pork meat (and some bones, be careful), but also potatoes and rice, making for a starchy carb-y brick. Once ordered, it arrives within a minute, having been stewing for hours and ready to go. This preparation causes it to fall apart when touched and melt in your mouth, each bite full of flavor from all that stewing. While tamales are eaten daily in Honduras, a large bag of them will show up in family homes during Christmas, the focus of the meal and a reason to celebrate. No matter day, the tamal is important.

In its most famous form in México, an enchilada consists of corn tortillas wrapped around meat and peppers and other ingredients, usually smothered in sauce and covered with cheese and/or cream. A Honduran enchilada resembles what Mexicans call a tostada though, an antojito formed on a base of a fried tortilla.

Ingredients are much different, this one here ($3 each, above and below) consists of slightly sweet ground beef in a tomato sauce and quite a bit of chopped up vegetables and crumbled cheese. A hard-boiled egg is cut in half and put on top.

Versions I had in Honduras sometimes had layers of sweet plantain or potatoes, but here it remains fairly light and goes down easy.

The feel is good here. I look forward to taking a friend and challenging others on the pool table after a few cervezas hondureñas and maybe some rum. Maybe we will stay for a show and dance until 4am. I would not bet on this, but maybe.

Ruinas de Copan Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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