Dream of warmer days while visiting these four award-winning restaurants serving Caribbean and South American cuisine.
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For all the charms of New England winter (powdery snow! roaring fires! reason to wear a fleece one-piece suit all day!), the darkest, coldest season has a way of outlasting its welcome to the Northeast. Not wanting to go down the path of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, many flee south to the tropics in search of sun, sand and munchies more exciting than beef stew and bread.
But you don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars for a rejuvenating taste of warmer climes. In the snow-capped hills and valleys of wintry New England, you’ll find some of the region’s tastiest flavors of Caribbean and South American cuisine, from shrimp ceviche to rum-infused pineapple pie. These four family-run restaurants allow you to enjoy the best of both worlds – skiing or sledding by day and enjoying a tropical smorgasbord by sunset.
Milford, New Hampshire
When chef Chris Viaud began hosting a series of pop-up dinners at his first restaurant, Greenleaf, his mission was to showcase the dishes he grew up eating in Haiti. The one-off celebrations were such a success that Viaud decided it was time to get back to normal and opened the Ansanm in autumn 2021. The aromatic restaurant blends classic Haitian cuisine with a modern sense of edible creativity.
The fried chicken sandwich with pikliz, crispy plantains and epis aioli is served on homemade adobo brioche. The golden brown pork shoulder and curried chickpea stew are loaded with enough spice to warm you up after a long afternoon in the snow. And the buttery patés (patties), generously filled with seasoned meat or mushrooms and vegetables, bring a quintessential Haitian street food to central southern New Hampshire. Throw in a Mango Sunset mixed drink and it’ll be a trip to remember.
20 South St., Milford, New Hampshire, 603-554-1248, ansanmnh.com.
There’s something about seclusion that can spur innovation, and in Woodstock, Vermont — a classic New England village known for covered bridges and maple syrup of different flavors — a restaurant has been fusing and remixing Caribbean flavors for more than a decade. At Melaza Bistro, locally raised meats and vegetables are processed into tempting small dishes, like corn and roasted poblano-stuffed empanadas with guava dip, or jumbo garlic shrimp with grilled crostini.
Chef David Diaz brings the influence of his Puerto Rican heritage and surrounding islands to the menu, which also offers several heartier options, including filet mignon medallions dusted with chili and coffee and saffron-braised vegetable paella. A fresh mojito or rum punch adds an extra layer of tropical escapism to your meal, especially if it’s one of those long, dark New England nights when snow billows outside the windows of the restaurant’s cozy, green-decked dining room.
71 Central St., Woodstock, Vermont, 802-457-7110, melazabistro.com.
When Miguel Gomez moved to the Berkshires from Colombia in 1993, he quickly realized that tracking down authentic Colombian cuisine—not to mention the raw ingredients needed to spice up family classics—would be a literal journey. After many pilgrimages to New York City markets to source staples like mole, Gomez found himself sharing his cooking with members of the Pittsfield community.
When you enter La Fogata (which translates to “the campfire”) today, the first thing you will likely see is a wooden shelf near the entrance that contains some of those precious ingredients that Gomez traveled far to acquire and when when you entered the diner -in menu, the fruits of these international market trips speak for themselves. Set the stage with yuca con hogao — cassava with sautéed tomatoes and onions. Enhance the meal with pargo rojo frito, fried red snapper with green plantains, or churrasco, a hearty grilled steak with a light chimichurri sauce. And don’t forget to leave room for an insanely sweet helping of the house tres leches cake.
770 Tyler St., Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 413-443-6969, lafogatarestaurante.com.
Visit Tyce BBQ
Authentic Southern-style barbecue can be a Beluga for New England foodies. On the Maine coast just south of Portland, however, a different tantalizing genre of melt-in-the-mouth smoked meat awaits visitors. In a cozy cottage decorated in bright yellows and greens, the team at Go See Tyce serves up heaps of grilled dishes from Jamaica even further south.
Go See Tyce’s Jamaican-style barbecue infuses succulent cuts with marinades and spices that open up a nebula of flavors far beyond New England. Whether you’re craving a miniature mountain of peppery brisket, ribs and jerk pork, the bright flavor of mango coconut scallops, or fresh whole fish in Escovitch sauce (a flavorful vinegar-based vegetable dressing), Go See the eclectic and evolving menu Tyce has cultivated a loyal following of visitors. It’s takeout only, so once you’re picked up, you’ll want to find a cozy spot to enjoy your Jamaican feast. But whether you’re holed up at a nearby hotel or heading back to Boston after a weekend of winter strolls on the beach, a multi-course dinner from Go See Tyce is a little closer to the return of the summer sea breeze.
810 Portland Rd., Saco, Maine, 207-494-8025, goseetycebbqllc.com.