3. Nidia Rivera’s Habichuelas Con Dulces Stand

Susana and Mischa eating corn
Photo courtesy Roadfood

Not every iconic eatery needs a brick-and-mortar building to be world-famous — especially in Washington Heights. The area is bustling with endless street vendors and stands that offer a range of fresh fruit, vegetables, and Dominican classics. One such vendor is Nidia Rivera, whose habicheulas con dulces stand attracts patrons from all over the world. In the simplest terms, the dish consists of beans that are cooked with some dairy and sweetened.

When Collins and Rosa visited Rivera’s stand, her granddaughter said, “People coming from Miami, to take this. Atlantic City, from Boston — everywhere.” Collins asked why hers is so famous, and she replied, “My grandma been here for 30 years.” Given that Rivera’s recipe includes cookies, Collins said, “It’s almost like a hot chocolate.” With a scandalized expression, Rosa said, “It’s a lack of justice.” Collins clarified, “It’s great — unlike anything I’ve ever had.”

Despite being a street stand, Rivera’s operation is no small enterprise. Fans can see the 11 huge orange Home Depot coolers of product by the stand, and Rosa noted that they go through about 20 of them a day. Collins tries both the sweet beans and sweet corn habichuelas con dulces options the stand offers, but he likes the beans better than the corn.

Rosa also noted that vendors have feuds on whether or not raisins should be included in the dish. Raisin connoisseur Collins said, “Oh, definitely raisins. I’m staunchly pro-raisin myself.” Rosa translated a worker’s explanation, saying, “They don’t put the raisins in because people come from all over to get the habichuelos. So in order to preserve them, it’s better not to put the raisins. It makes them sour.” So fans will just have to decide for themselves which version they prefer.