Cuba NYC: Caribbean Eats in the Village

“The Cuban food you get in the U.S. has nothing to do with the food in Cuba.”  Post on one forum, the subject being wine pairings for Cuban food.

Cuba (photo by MJ Byers)

Eatery:   Cuba, 222 Thompson Street, New York, NY

I might never have heard of Cuba (the restaurant in NYC, not the country) had it not been for my friend Veronica.  We were having a walk around the Village one sunny and hot afternoon when she began to fancy a drink.  We spotted the sidewalk-adjacent tables at Cuba and sangrias became a must-have. After downing a couple of rather strong red wine sangrias, drunk dialing a few folks and Veronica trying to buy the art work from the walls, we moved on with our day.  But I vowed to return and sample the food, seduced by the Caribbean vibe, the lovely setting and, yes, the sangria.

The rather impressive art at Cuba (photo by MJ Byers)

And so it came to pass that on a subsequent sunny and hot afternoon, Husband and I sat at that very same table and had lunch – vaca frita for me, and huevos rancheros for him.  Now, I already have a go-to Cuban restaurant in NYC so I was keen to find out if this could be a replacement (the Village is so much closer to home than my usually Cuban place, Havana Central, in…..dare I say it……Midtown).

The verdict:  Cuba is a great restaurant and we had a very lovely lunch.  I think the food is a tiny bit better at Havana Central, where the vaca frita is spicier and the rice more flavorful, though that served by Cuba is quite tasty – nicely crispy and a bit tart from the citrus juice used in the recipe.  And, the black beans that came alongside were outstanding.  Husband was not a big fan of the huevos…..and I must admit they were not prepared in my personal preferred style:  fried or sunny side up eggs atop tortilla and beans vs. the Cuba way, which was more like a scrambled egg and bean quesadilla (FYI, I am on a quest to find awesome huevos rancheros – more on this in the future).

Vaca Frita at Cuba (photo by MJ Byers)

Huevos Rancheros at Cuba (photo by MJ Byers)

We’ll be back, though, for the lovely relaxed vibe, the delicious sangria (stronger and tastier than that served by my usual place) and the open-air setting (in nice weather) on one of NYC’s most charming streets.  I’ll see to it that Husband finds something to love next time.

White Sangria at Cuba (photo by Tony Byers)

Price:  Vaca Frita, $18.00; Huevos Rancheros, $10.00; 2 white sangrias, $21.90 (Cuba runs a special – all you can drink sangria for a two hour period….score!)

Destination Meal:  Yes.

Fat/Calorie Worthy:  Vaca Frita, definitely; Huevos Rancheros, not so much according to Husband.

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