52-year-old Chinese-Cuban restaurant La Caridad closes on the Upper West Side
Photo taken by 6sqft on July 24, 2020
Last week, West Side Rag noticed a “for lease” sign on the window of La Caridad 78, a beloved Chinese-Cuban restaurant that has been on the corner of Broadway and 78th Street for 52 years. Neighbors had speculated about its closing in the days prior after seeing the restaurant’s furniture and other interior items taken out. As Florence Fabricant wrote in the Times, “It was one of the city’s best-known purveyors of Chino Latino food,” serving up dishes like “fried rice with plantains or Chinese pepper steak with Cuban black beans.”
La Caridad 78 was opened in 1968 by Raphael Lee. Of Chinese descent, he grew up in Cuba but left the country when Fidel Castro came to power. In more recent years, his son Sam Lee took over. The fusion of Cuban and Chinese cuisines has a long history. In the mid-1800s, people from China were brought to Cuba to work as indentured laborers on the sugar fields. After the Communist Revolution, many Chinese-Cubans fled Cuba, mainly relocating to Miami and New York.
The restaurant was a neighborhood gathering spot, known for its large portions, reasonable prices, and spot-on cuisine. As the Times tells us, it was a favorite of travel television host Burt Wolf, chef Bill Telepan, and food writer Ruth Reichl.