Sazón, which is located at 105 Reade Street and specializes in Puerto Rican food, is Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer’s favorite restaurant. Yes, I admit that this particular opinion involves masticating rather than adjudicating. I nevertheless trust Sotomayer’s  judgment on all things.  My experience at Sazón confirmed that she made the right culinary decision.

Chef Frank Maldonado, a recent guest on The Food Network’s “Throwdown with Bobby Flay, oversees the Sazón kitchen. He serves seafood paella, churrasco, ropa vieja and mofongo al pilan.  Sazón‘s bar is a popular neighborhood after-work gathering spot where guests can drink tropical libations such as sangria, mojitos, coco loco and calle guava. In addition to the Island-themed dining room decorated with long tables and interesting chandeliers , there is a downstairs lounge and private party space.

The menu is diverse and reasonably priced. I would particularly enjoy the seafood salad with tostones, calamari, octopus, and shrimp; the churrasco and shrimp scampi with fired green plantains and spinach; and the Puerto Rican yucca crab cakes with pink aioli.

The event I attended took place in this downstairs space. I entered a dimly lit funky large room which was adorned with interesting graffiti. Here are three examples of the texts which appeared on the walls:

1.      “Sometimes the king is a woman.”
2.      “Why does the feeling of emptiness occupy so much space?”
3.      “The healing of a broken heart.”

 These words provided food for thought as I enjoyed the open bar, tasty cheese balls and pieces of pork, and listened to the catchy Latin music. Throughout the evening, I kept my eye on the dramatic staircase which provides the entrance to the downstairs room (and which reminded me of the grandiose staircase in HELLO DOLLY.) I kept hoping to see a certain black robed famous native New York woman make a grand entrance. I imagined myself saying, “Hello, Sonia” with outstretched hand. Although this IS New York and hey, ya never know, it didn’t happen. Regardless, I judged the evening to be a great success.

– Marleen Barr

105 Reade Street
Between W. Broadway and Church Street

Images via Gothamist,, and NY Mag