I’ve never been to Cuba, but I can’t imagine that over forty years of sanctions has raised the quality of the food. Do they use Russian beef shipped in 1958 Ford trucks? That would be a mistake. Luckily for us, we live in the U.S. and can enjoy the flavors of Cuba made with all the modern hormone-injected meat we can eat. And we can down this stuff in a funky, Caribbean environment in a trendy neighborhood while being bombarded with extra-loud live Latin music and wiping our mouths on linen napkins. A giant bar runs what seems like the entire length of the restaurant (which is quite deep), and the seating is set up perfectly for large parties and communal shouting. The whole place makes you want to wear a pith helmet and knee socks and smoke a cigar. There are things like oxtail and random pig parts, but we stuck with the sole with banana on top and the steak, both of which were very tasty and plentiful. The mojitos and caipirinhas were strong enough to make your eyes bug, and tasty enough to keep ’em comin’ all night long. This place is certainly different enough to warrant super-cool status, and would make a great place to bring a date on whom you wouldn’t mind dropping a little coin. [MF]
405 W 14th St.