Address: 113 Rivington St. (at Essex St.)
Best Bet: Mofongo ($7)
El Castillo de Jagua serves the kind of stick-to-your ribs staples that feel like they were whipped up by Mom just for you, if your mother was a Dominican Martha Stewart who spent hours slaving over the stove. Unfortunately for you, she probably wasn't, so you'll have to rely on El Castillo to provide you with the kind of soul-satisfying Latino grub you're looking for.
El Castillo is an every meal type of spot, with solid breakfast options like a legit mangu ($5.50) with fried cheese and salami, and what might just be the best cuban sandwich in the city ($5) as an awesome lunch option. But the real standouts don't appear till after dark.
Any night of the week, walk up to the counter, settle your culo onto one of the worn stools, and order the daily special: whether it be a perfectly seasoned pernil asado or the super-moist Pollo al Horno, it will somehow be exactly what you're in the mood for. Even the basics here shine, from the unreasonably huge portions of yellow rice and red beans that come with every dish to mountains of authentic mofongo—a fried plantain dish—($7.00) that have rich, decadent flavors with price tags fit for the poor.
Castillo's low key digs are not quite date-night worthy, but it's down home, dirt cheap dishes are enough to impress even the most high maintenance of taste buds. Even skeptics will turn believers when the bill comes, trust us.