Washington Heights, a community of entrepreneurs reflecting their cultural origins in all facets of business – and that’s especially true in its cuisine. Rich in flavors and textures, and unfortunately in most cases, the caloric intake. Refreshingly enough, Pick & Eat is one of the few establishments thriving in the Washington Heights area for its health conscious menu. The menu is vegan/vegetarian friendly but still enveloped in its hearty Latin American roots. Owner Alex Peralta, a native of the Dominican Republic, wanted an establishment that merged healthy living with flavors of his cherished country. “Why not use all organic ingredients without compromising its delicious taste? -Alex Peralta
While attending culinary school, Mr. Peralta had the opportunity to experiment with countless ingredients and pull influences from a number of Latin American countries; making these initial attempts the inspiration behind his establishment. In a neighborhood where health problems like obesity is a chronic issue, he took the initiative to provide a space with healthier options at reasonable prices.
This past Thursday, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Peralta in a small intimate gathering for journalists and bloggers to celebrate their two year anniversary and to sample his new menu expansion, which included:
*Dairy Free/Vegan Yautia Creamy Soup (Yautia: an edible plant commonly found in the Caribbean that are cooked and eaten like potatoes.)
*Vegetarian Sancocho (Sancocho: a thick soup of vegetables boiled in water with some salt and seasoning.) This soup also comes with your choice of chicken, steak, roasted vegetables, salmon or shrimp.
Both soups had such flavorful consistency – it made for a wonderful opener to introduce the meal.
*Bago’s Tacos, named after YouTube’s comedic darling Juan Bago, (aka Michael Diaz) comes with your choice of ground turkey, roasted vegetables, chicken and churrasco (Churrasco: is a Spanish term referring to beef or grilled meat more generally, differing across Latin America.)
1. Brazilian Jasmine Rice w/ Scallions, Roasted Corn, Fresh Cilantro (Vegan)
2. Entre Dos Brown Rice w/ Dried Cranberries, Chick Peas (Vegan)
3. Organic Quinoa Primavera w/ Celery, Carrots, and Roasted Corn (Vegan)
1. Cibao Style Lentil Beans with coconut infusion (Vegan) (Cibao: is a region of the Dominican Republic located at the northern part of the country.)
2. Roselia’s Black Bean’s (Vegan)
1. Guacamole Dip
2. Eggplant Dip
3. Roasted Pepper Tzatziki Dip
4. Roasted Garbanzo Hummus
5. Mojito de Gallo
1. Wood Oven Palitos de Yuca (Vegetarian)
2. Majao Majao – Smashed Yuca Yam and Potatoes (C/O Vegan w/ Olive Oil, Vegetarian w/ Butter)
3. Steam Vegetables (Broccoli, String Beans Baby Corn, Carrots) (Vegan)
4. Stuffed Baked Potato w/ Cheddar, Parmesan, and Low Fat Cream Cheese w/ Scallions (C/O your choice of meat)
*New Addition of Meats and Vegetables
1. Ana’s Lean Ground Turkey Meat
2. Francia’s Sauteed Eggplant (Vegan)
3. Wood Oven Roasted Vegetables (Brussels Sprouts, String Beans, Asparagus, Baby Corn, and Carrots) (Vegan)
Power Smoothies with fruits, leafy greens, vegetables and chia seeds. Each drink has 5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein per tablespoon. The chia seed smoothie was amazingly delicious – a tropical fruit pulp jam-packed with fiber – who could ask for anything more? Delish!
In summary: I had a great experience. The decor was very comfortable, the staff was friendly and personable. The new additions to the original menu were flavorful and rich with each bite. The soups were hearty and even had a little spicy kick to it.
I definitely plan on going back and trying multiple things on the menu, and I strongly encourage my readers to do the same.