Cuban cuisine is never dull. That’s thanks to the bold flavors it melds together from Spanish, Creole, African, and Caribbean flavors, making it a unique and distinguished cuisine all its own. If you’ve never had the pleasure of letting Cuban food dance across your palate, it’s time to do the mambo with your mouth. The good news is you don’t need to hop a plane down to Havana to get authentic Cuban food. You can find it right in the heart of the big city. Here are 5 of the very best Cuban restaurants in New York City.
1. Cafe Cortadito
The impeccable quality of the food served here shows in the lines of people that wait patiently to eat here. You’ll find all the typical Cuban dishes, but they are prepared so perfectly and enthusiastically that they’re truly hard to beat. The grilled skirt steak with chimichurri salsa is a winner, as are the fried yucca fingers. It’s a tiny place with great Cuban eats that people willingly line up for. That should tell you something about how good it is.
2. Amor Cubano
It’s a restaurant that doubles as a nightclub. It seems a little confusing at first, but one bite of the food here and you’ll be transported to Havana. You’ll find traditional favorites like ropa vieja with a side of fried plantains, and you’ll find less common selections too like the Lechon Asado and Garbanzos Fritos. Also, if you like mojitos, this place rocks them with wild flavors like pineapple, mango, coconut, and guava. If you’re looking for a lively and fun place to get your Cuban fix, this is it.
Tucked inside Greenwich Village, you’ll find this gem named for the very country it represents. It’s simple and purely good Cuban cuisine at its best. Prepared classically, dishes like braised pork belly and Cazuela Marinara will win you over while the snapper in a crispy green plantain crust will steal your heart clean away. Friday and Saturday night are even more reason to come with live music that gets everyone from the other diners to the wait staff dancing along.
4. Havana Central
Havana Central dishes out authentic Cuban cuisine in a handsomely decorated environment reminiscent of the old rum and cigar days of yore. You’ll find empanadas, tapas, and plenty of spiced meats. Cuban sandwiches are amazing here, as are the fried plantains served alongside them. Dessert is a must with the donut sticks, served with a fine dusting of cinnamon and sugar and a choice of sauces (chocolate or dulce de leche) for dipping.
You might know the song “Guantanamera” but once you know the restaurant of the same name, you’ll be back for more. The music and the food here will make you feel more alive than you’ve ever felt. The menu is a wonderful mix of traditional offerings as well as unusual things like plantains stuffed with shrimp. Everything here is a delight, especially the long list of specialty mojitos that will surely make your night.