Lunch specials at Brooklyn restaurants are generally pretty hit or miss as far as great deals go — you want the best combination of quality/bang for your buck, and also, as New Yorkers, want something that tastes good, fills you up, and is not easily replicated at home or by another spot within walking distance. El Cofre (454 Myrtle Avenue) checks off all those boxes.
The unassuming, yet highly visible and popular-with-locals-on-a-budget restaurant specializes in Latin American and Puerto Rican cuisine such as stewed oxtail and goat, rice and beans, soupy rice, fried pork chops, and mashed green plantains. All visible behind a glass serving counter, and on plates being eaten by other customers in the no-frills-yet-cozy dining space, the food entices on sight.
There are also several lunch special options available every weekday until 4pm — all equally great. And El Cofre also serves hot and breakfast sandwiches, roast chicken, spare ribs, and dessert items like flan.
Since we’re in the middle of winter chills and cold rain, we went for the stewed meat lunch specials: oxtail stew over rice and kidney beans ($7.50 lunch special or $8.99 as a plate with fries or plantains) and stewed codfish over rice and beans (also $7.50 for a lunch special).
Our favorite is the oxtail stew because of the tender meat and savory sauce that turns the rice into a comforting mass of warmth, but the codfish is a great option if you don’t want to have to deal with bones and fat. The plantains are a personal favorite, especially as they’re the soft green kind (plantains are also often fried as chips at other eateries and in bodegas).
Verdict: El Cofre is a win-win for food and affordability, and we love the quick service and no fuss approach to serving homecooked food like the kinds not available in our area unless you head south to Crown Heights and Flatbush. Eat here, often!
454 Myrtle Avenue
Open daily at 9am