Friday, November 10, 2006

Emperador Elias

We could talk about the "What Took Em So Long Department": Britney Spears, who finally decided to dump her trashy consort, or Bush who finally decided to dump his toxic military sidekick.
We could celebrate Virginia's win til there's no tomorrow. And we shall.
But since it's Friday, we are going to talk about El Emperador Elias, a favorite Dominican joint of mine on Broadway in Williamsburg. Why? Because it is important that you know that there is such a joint in this town. And it is even more important that you fight to the death the ridiculous notion that the city is going to ban transfats from restaurants. If they do that, as this piece in The New Yorker points out, that will be the anihilation of good food in this city. THIS CAN'T HAPPEN.
Okay, now.
Until recently, as you got off the J train in Marcy Ave (yes, the J, get over it) and walked towards Peter Luger on Broadway, you walked by a pretty crummy storefront where you saw the usual yummy stuff swimming in grease. As you entered, mesmerized by the very good looking roast chicken and its attendant aromas, you realized you were in some sort of Mesopotamian temple with Greek influences that happens to serve Dominican food. The decor of the place is worth the stop, even if you are a vegan. This is one greasy spoon with imperial pretensions. Hence the name.
Well, they have spiffed up the storefront with a shiny new display case, meticulously Windexed, showing yummy stuff still swimming in grease.
Luckily, they have left the Mesopotamian-Egyptian-Nero's-Rome-by-way-of-the-Flintstones decor quite intact.
There are several worthy reasons to patronize Emperador Elias:
• The roast chicken is moist and delicious, the rice and beans are great and the rest of the food looks really good too.
• The waitresses call you "mami" (or papi), "corazón" or "mi amor".
• They have mofongo, the gastronomic plutonium bomb.
• For $16 you get a whole roast chicken, a huge container of excellent rice (white or yellow), a big container of fantastic red beans (miraculously non-flatulent, I might add), a generous side order of sweet plantains, aka "maduros " and a 2 liter bottle of Pepsi. Screw Peter Luger.
Also, because everything is ready in 2 minutes but for some reason you have to wait for the maduros like three hours, the man behind the counter, who I assume is Emperor Elias Jr., gave me a freebie (Greek coffee) cup of chicken noodle soup while I waited. He also hit on me big time. I noticed he didn't offer no freebie to the guy before me.
In any case, here's our seductive repartee, conducted in Spanish, and translated for your enjoyment:

- What is the lovely girl from el DF gonna want tonight?
- How did you know I'm from el DF?
- I hear the accent, mami.
I place my order.
- And your husband, he from Mexico?, he asks, utterly certain about my marital status. I realize now that this is a ploy to make me think he respects me so much, I must be married.
In the interest of self-preservation, I answer:
- No, he's from here.
He makes a dissappointed face. Like a sad clown in a velvet painting.
- White or "moreno"? (meaning Black).
- White.
- You don't like morenos?
- I like everything, but I just happened to like him.
- And how long you been married?
- 14 years.
- How many children?
- Not a one.
- Your husband is lazy. Does he have children?
- No. None that I know of.
This makes him laugh.
- And what do you do here, mami?
- I write commercials.
- Oh, you are a very intelligent young woman.
To the waitress:
- So where are the maduros for this child from Guadalajara?
- I'm not from Guadalajara, I'm from el DF.
- Oh. They're not the same?

Emperador Elias has something called Mexican Corner on the menu. Don't go there.
Otherwise, Emperador Elias is on Broadway and Marcy. Williamsburg.

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