Yes, our title is a bold statement but we’ve eaten lechón, aka Puerto Rican roast pork from many places, including at family gatherings, but outside the home there’s only one place to go: La Piraña Lechonera.
Located at 152nd Street and Wales and operated out of a truck, this place is a lechonera lover’s dream.
Run by Angel Jimenez aka Piraña, he prepares and cooks the pork just like he learned from his grandparents and parents back in Puerto Rico.
When Jimenez isn’t there—the days he needs a break after working a week straight—people notice; they ask where he’s been. For him, his customers, and for the community of the South Bronx, La Piraña is an experience of home. “People dancing, eating, having fun, like Puerto Rican style,” he said. “I’ve been making it like that since I started. They sit down, eat, feel like family.” The work is long, but he says that the love from his customers keeps him going. And he returns it, too, giving food to children and to the homeless. “Whatever you’ve got, you’ve gotta give it to them. You say no, it’s not a good look for you,” he said.
One day, he hopes to turn the lechonera into his only gig: with a brick-and-mortar restaurant, where pictures of his family—and his father’s machetes, used both for cutting wood and hacking lechón—will line the walls. Even if the setting changes, Jimenez says the location won’t. “I love the Bronx,” he told us. “That’s where I grew up. Never forget where you come from.”
Watch the Vice video below:
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