It seems like every week, networks are releasing outlandish and gimmicky food shows that continually try to top the latest one. However, in PBS’ Roadfood host Misha Collins is taking fans back to the basics of exploring American cuisine. Collins brings fans along for the ride on a rich culinary experience that deep dives into the cuisines of areas in the United States with robust communities and culture. Collins hones in on locations and communities that may not be the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions a city. Yet rather than focusing on on the best pizza places in New York or barbeque in Texas, Roadfood takes fans on a deeper ride through these cities and the wonderfully diverse food, culture, and people who live there.  New Yorkers will be most excited to dive into the show’s second episode, titled “NYC/Little Dominican Republic: Tres Golpes.” As Collins said, “This feels like a city within a city.”

Collins’ charm and wit shine through the series almost as much as his genuine compassion, eagerness to listen to people’s stories, and drive to shed light on injustices within these communities. The actor, perhaps most renown for Supernatural, turned what could have been a simple food tasting show into a thoughtful and well-rounded program that’s more about people and community than the food they celebrate. The culinary aspect of the series is certainly entertaining. Still, the series’ heart comes out the strongest when Collins interviews community leaders and culinary experts about their journey to success and the struggles many of these communities still face today.

Misha Collins shooting roadfood
Behind the scenes on the set of Roadfood. Photo courtesy Roadfood.

Roadfood expertly balances the show’s humor with its depth, offering 25 minutes of complete immersion into a city and its cuisine during each episode, even inspiring fans to get involved with their own communities and activism along the way. One miss is that the show does not label each new restaurant the Roadfood team visits, which would have made it easier for fans to patronize the establishments without having to don their Nancy Drew goggles to figure out where the crew stopped. Untapped New York will step in here, and provide you a guide to the hidden food gems in the Washington Heights area.

New Yorkers will be most excited to dive into the show’s second episode, titled “NYC/Little Dominican Republic: Tres Golpes.” As Collins said, “This feels like a city within a city.” Using the New York episode as a guide, here are some hidden gems in the Washington Heights area.

Collins is no stranger to New York City, but community activist Juan Rosa introduced him to an aspect of the city he hadn’t noticed before. Collins remarked during the episode, “I’ve visited New York a million times. I have driven past here and just had my blinders up, and I haven’t allowed myself to explore, experience, and talk to people, and I feel like I am learning so much about how culture can be and how we could interact with one another.” That’s what Roadfood does best: unveil elements of a city you may see every day without ever truly seeing or experiencing what these areas have to offer.

Collins asked Rosa, “What do you want the world to know about this place? And is there some sort of wisdom that this community can convey to the rest of America?” He said, “The community wants you to know that once you come into the neighborhood, you are a part of the family.” He mentioned the area’s community values in that everyone is friendly and greets each other, adding, “I think New York City missed that. Everyone misses smiling at each other and making that connection with strangers. Little Dominican Republic, Washington Heights, Dyckman, you will find that. The family, the love, and great food. It makes me proud to be Dominican.”  In Little Dominica, food and family go hand in hand, and there are a whole lot of cultural cuisines to feast on in the area.

1. Malecón Restaurant

Malecon restaurant in Washington Heights

The first stop on the Roadfood tour through Washington Heights is Malecón Restaurant, where Collins and Rosa settled down for some Dominican-Caribbean breakfast. The menu boasts classics like habichuelas con dulce, pide lo tuyos, and mofongo de langosta en salsa roja.

However, Collins noted how much Rosa loves Dominican breakfast, so they ordered tres golpes. Rosa explained that the morning dish translates to “three hits.” Of course, like any morning food, the cheese, fried egg, salami, and mangu (mashed plantains) plate is all about providing a jolt of energy. When Collins asked Rosa how often he eats this particular item, he said, “As often as I can.”

The duo took this opportunity to get into the deeper subject of Little Dominica’s future. Collins asked, “Do you think that Little Dominica will be Little Dominica 15 years from now?” Rosa confirmed that he thinks it will, adding, “[The] cultural impact that this community has in the broader culture I think makes it so that it’s not gonna be erased. I think we over here in Little Dominican Republic, we hold on to our traditions — because we’re not in the every day of our homeland. We have to keep onto our traditions that remind us of that homeland.”