We like the gimmick that greets you outside this midtown restaurant: Veteran cigar maker Marcos Lopez hand-rolls stogies and offers them, gratis, to diners. The place itself feels like a Cuban theme park: There are palm trees, a live mambo band, ceiling fans with broad rattan blades and flickering light from candles in wrought-iron sconces. The kitchen is equally seductive. Bits of salty pork are enveloped in soft, sweet corn masa and steamed in a corn husk; roasted suckling pig features thick chunks—covered in a garlic–sour-orange marinade—that fall apart at the touch of a fork; and the fillet of red snapper stands up to a thick crust of green plantains, fried to a satisfying crunch and accompanied by smoky black beans and rice. Even the flan is something special: truly creamy, with an oozing sauce of caramelized sugar.
939 Eighth Ave
|Cross street:||between 55th and 56th Sts|
|Opening hours:||Daily noon–midnight|
|Transport:||Subway: A, C, B, D, 1 to 59th St–Columbus Circle|
|Price:||Average main course: $17. AmEx, MC, V|