Sandy's draws a crowd of regulars, both in and out of uniform, not simply for a lengthy menu of Latin favorites but especially as a lechonera — a destination for platefuls of crisp-skinned roast suckling pig, or lechon asado (above; $6). On one visit, my chaser was a jugo de ajonjoli (Hoo-go day ah-hone-Hoe-lee; large; $2.50), a juice whose flavor eluded me till I put an English name to it: sesame. Another time, a cup of the street-truck refresher called maví (Mah-Bee; $2) was simultaneously rootsy and sweet.
On other visits: Boneless slices of pork chop were wedged into my chuleta sandwich (below; $6), while on-the-bone fragments littered the plate. You can pick off pieces with your fingers and toss them between the bread, or gnaw away the old-fashioned way. (Or you can do both, like me.) Stewed chicken, with rice and beans (lunch special; $6), was fall-apart tender but much messier to share than the mofongo with chicharrón (not shown; $6.50), a softball-sized mound of mashed plantain studded with pork, with pork chunks on the side. The alcapurrias (not shown; $1.25), beef-filled fried plantains, haven't always been very beefy; the disc-shaped cod fritters called bacalaitos (not shown; $1.25), are tasty if oily.
Also shown below, two blocks west on 116th St.: a distinguished older Bloomingdale's sign and its suave young companion. (Click the photo to see them close up.)
2261 Second Ave. (at 116th St.)