>> El Buen Chapin Deli | Eat the World NYC

05 March 2020

El Buen Chapin Deli


The Guatemalan offerings at this address have went through quite a transformation over the past year. After the old flower shop went out of business in early 2018, the shop eventually became somewhat of a corner store for Central Americans despite its mid-block location. It had some trinkets and a few groceries, but seemed to be mostly used for people to send remittances and otherwise back home.

Eventually a sign showed up outside with the simple offer of chuchitos, the wrapped-and-steamed masa delights very similar to Mexican-style tamales. With a crisp new Guatemalan flag in the window and no other outward facing signage, it was hard to resist coming in to check it out.

El Buen Chapin Deli is continuing the story of the Central Americanization of Sunset Park, and surpasses Karen Deli in the southern reaches of the neighborhood as the strongest presence for the country.

Even back before the new steam table opened, the shop was selling some packaged baked goods, national team jerseys, colorful tradition dresses and pants and a hodgepodge of other pantry products.

Before this year, the woman running the shop would have to leave her envios booth and open up the big Coleman cooler that had the foil-wrapped chuchitos (above, one unwrapped) sold individually. On the first attempt it was noticed that they would be gone not much after noon.

Chuchitos are still made almost daily, but now a rotating steam table is on offer and has taken command of the interior. Two tables offer four seats each and depending on when you arrive finding a seat could be difficult. Plan to make some friends at any rate, as you will probably share a table once you do sit down.

Most dishes besides soups will come with a hearty portion of rice and beans and two fluffy homemade Guatemalan-style corn tortillas for $10. On the first time coming to the steam table, the woman smiled and asked "Conoces la comida guatemalteca?" very confidently. It was nice to hear a specificity of cuisine, a sort of pride that references back to the name of the place.

On some days you might find chiles rellenos (above and below), very thin peppers stuffed with ground beef and vegetables. Each one is dipped in a flour and egg batter before frying. The dish is quite mild but they have a good green salsa available if you need it.

As mentioned, like most dishes this comes served over their very good rice and black beans. It is an enjoyable and filling dish, exactly the type of meal many other customers are looking for before or after their day of work.

The restaurant is everything you might expect and want from a workaday place. A dry erase board is out front daily with the selections available inside, but you will see everyone take a look at the offerings before deciding. The kitchen staff are happy to remove lids and offer views of each dish.

On one recent visit, a simple sopa de pollo ($10, above) was enjoyed. Filled with potatoes and chayote, the extremely large chunks of on-the-bone chicken are actually difficult to handle with the plastic silverware. By the end the tortillas came in handy to hold meats and keep juices from splashing.

A bit of a surprise in execution was the pepián de gallina ($10, below), a hen stew that is served with a really rich sauce that almost has the thickness and likeness of a mole. One of the most famous Mayan dishes still loved today is done really well here, although the bony bits of hen are almost an afterthought. Bites of the rice and pepián were the real winners.


The store still seems to do the tasks it used to, and some come in for medicines or other reasons, but now someone will have to leave the kitchen to attend to these needs in the front. The back of the shop and its daily prepared foods are clearly the focus nowadays.

The shelves seem to get more stocked with each visit, including many universal products and some Guatemalan things like Pollo Campero-branded ketchup, something every fridge needs. You will also find packaged bakery items from a famous place in Philadelphia as well as fresh baked goods in a case from a local baker. A true one stop shop.

El Buen Chapin Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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