In the heart of Spanish Harlem, known to locals as El Barrio, is the Puerto Rican tapas bar, La Fonda. “We put Puerto Rican food on the map, ” said James Gonzalez, who became a partner in 2017 after having spent “forever” as a loyal customer. “With my background, I should have been anything except for an entrepreneur, but here I am. ”Puerto Rican immigrant Jorge Ayala had spent decades living next door to George & Gina’s, a small eatery named after the husband and wife team that owned it. When the couple decided to sell, Jorge worked out a deal to take over the lease and create a “restaurant of the people” that celebrated the Latinx heritage that was so meaningful to him and other transplants in the neighborhood. Fittingly, La Fonda’s dishes are “Nuyorican fusion, ” melding elements from the Boricua, Spanish, African, and indigenous Taíno cultures. “Our food is all made the way a grandma would make it, but it’s not just the basic rice and beans that she would put on the table. ” Yes, La Fonda may make its sofrito fresh every day, and it is of course known for its chicharrón and slow-roasted pernil, but these hearty Latin staples take on an elegant new life under James and Jorge’s direction.