Escape from the streets of New York to the brightly colored paradise of the Dominican Republic while dining at Jalao. Enjoy authentic Dominican food and vibrant cultural surroundings right in the heart of Washington Heights without booking a pricey trip to the island of Hispaniola herself. We love the gorgeous courtyard built ostensibly for live music and dancing, a fitting tribute to the timeless atmosphere of the historic Ciudad Colonial of Santo Domingo. Located in the brand new Radio Hotel, guests can look forward to handcrafted Dominican furniture adorning the dining area while the walls are splashed with brightly colored murals and authentic Carnival masks.
Jalao’s culinary program is led by Jalao Santo Domingo’s Executive Chef, Noemi Guzman. She collaborates with Jalao NYC Executive Chef Harold Breton to interpolate Jalao’s renowned menu with some new dishes made exclusively for the New York market enriching it with fresh, local ingredients and nuanced flavors celebrated in the community.
The menu is unmistakably Dominican, with classic appetizers like mini mofongos, picadera, and yaniqueques (also known as Dominican johnnycakes). Highlights of the main menu include signature dishes such as Pecao’Frito (Boca chica style deep-fried red snapper), Chuleta Cancan (pork tomahawk), Paila Jalao (a palomilla onion-steak with crispy pork belly and longaniza-sausage) and the Mofongo Mar y Tierra (the ultimate Dominican Surf and Turf of shrimp and crispy pork belly with garlic mojo and option for lobster enhancement).
Vegetarian options include Pastelón de Berenjena, a plantain purée with grilled eggplant, and tomato-olive compote. The experience wouldn’t be complete without classic Dominican staples, including tostones, sancocho (a traditional Dominican stew”), and La Bandera Dominicana, or “The Dominican Flag,” the national dish of rice, beans, and choice of meat. We can also confirm that fried pork belly, known as Chicharron, is on the menu, so be sure to get your crunch on come dinner time.
“It’s every Dominican’s dream to come to New York, and as a Chef, it’s always been my dream to bring my culinary aspirations to the Big Apple,” says Chef Guzman. “We are telling the story of migration evolution via food, similar to the story of many Dominicans coming to this country while remaining true to their heritage.” Whether it is a familiar cocktail or a nostalgic treat, Antonio Espaillat, Jalao’s owner, hopes to make their restaurant feel like a home away from home. “It’s always been our goal to expand the Jalao brand outside of Santo Domingo, and what better place than the second most populated Dominican area outside of the Dominican Republic: Washington Heights,” says Antonio, “With Chef Guzman’s influence on the menu, we are bringing a taste of home to many in this community.”
Jalao also sports an exciting cocktail menu with an in-house Mamahuana, a blend of rum and red wine sweetened with honey and infused with botanicals indigenous to the Dominican Republic. The drink is a unique flavor experience. Enjoy it as a cocktail like the Mamajuana Manhattan or on its own as an aperitif or digestif. Cool down with an ice-cold morir soñando made with Tito’s, evaporated milk, and orange juice. Keep the party going when you visit Jalao at 2420 Amsterdam Ave.
The restaurant is open daily for lunch, dinner, bites, and drinks. Food service is available Sunday to Thursday from 5:00pm to 10:00pm extending to 11:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Courtyard seating will be open until midnight, as will the lounge from Sundays to Thursdays.