F, J, M, Z at Delancey St.-Essex St.
East Broadway to 8th St., Columbia St. to Bowery
El Castillo de Jagua is the kind of place where neighborhood softball teams settle in and enthusiastically loosen their uniform drawstrings, awaiting monster portions of delectable, down-home Dominican cooking. Rotating daily specials cover classics like sancocho soup and goat and chicken stews; salty bacalao is served on Fridays. The easy feel extends to the restaurant’s comfortable interior, with stools along a lunch counter, twin rows of tables topped with burgundy tablecloths (sensibly covered in wipe-down plastic), and a window full of artificial greenery. Morning, noon, and night, the kitchen turns out solid savories: At breakfast, eggs meet mangu, a mound of mashed plantains, and are served with superlative café con leche. Midday and beyond, the Cuban sandwich matches a wad of moist pulled pork with cheese, mayo, pickles, and ham, and battered steak features a crunchy, slightly sour golden crust. Red beans and yellow rice are the preferred accompaniments, except with the roast pork, which comes with cristianos y moros (white rice and black beans, respectively). White stucco walls adorned with tiles and crustacean-themed crockery evoke a look that seems about 1,500 miles and, aesthetically speaking, light years away from the hard-edged, glass-box boutique hotel next door.Recommended Dishes
Cuban sandwich, $5; small sancocho, $4; pernil asado, $9.50; salmon Castillo style, $13