"Maiz dulce, sweet corn," the vendor called out. Her cart, a liberated supermarket shopping cart, carried a pair of oversized orange thermal tubs. One (not shown) was filled with the obligatory habichuelas con dulce. The other held this equally sweet chacá, as maiz dulce is also known. This version (small cup, $1) was thicker than most.
Dominican sweets cart St. Nicholas Ave. near the southeast corner with 182nd St., Manhattan
Inspired by a member of the kitchen staff who'd emerged for his lunch break, this was an instance of "I'll have what he's having": guineos topped with stewed eggplant ($6). The only drama was in my decision to accept the counterwoman's offer of a little chicken gravy (gratis).
La Terraza Restaurant 3881 Broadway (161st-162nd Sts.), Manhattan 212-795-0615
(This venue is closed. Several other vendors still do business in the immediate vicinity; they sell the same items, in the same cups, at the same low prices. Recently I revisited the vendor on Nena La Rubia's old corner.) Though the proprietors may speak little English, "It's our pleasure to serve you" say the cups, and the smiles.
This fellow keeps long hours, so my all-starch breakfast, batata asada (roasted sweet potato, $3 per pound), might as easily have been lunch or dinner. Unlike Flushing's potato vendors, he does business during shorts weather, too, when his roasted corn, and his skewers of beef, pork, and chicken, may be bigger sellers. A chill in the air adds appeal to his potatoes, but unless you're traveling as part of a pack, get the smallest one possible — or be willing to tote around a spud-shaped hand-warmer.
The photo at bottom, taken late last winter, before scaffolding cast shadows on this vendor's usual corner, shows a pair of empty boxes off to one side of the cart. Only afterward did I recognize the brand of sweet potatoes, a well-known sight in Upper Manhattan.
Batata asada vendor Sherman St. at Dyckman St., Manhattan