Cuba Cafe

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The decor and atmosphere of Cuba Cafe will feel very familiar: It has the usual safety-net design—colorful paintings of Havana circa 1962, Christmas-light-adorned palms, and guayabera-clad waiters trying to take mojito orders from Chelsea gym bunnies and birthday partyers. But the menu, designed by executive chef Rodney Mitchell (Asia de Cuba), feels fresh and new. It goes way beyond ropa vieja. Mitchell’s pernil (roasted pork) is salty and moist, and the striped sea bass comes in a fragrant cumin-and-onion sauce. That condensed-milk meal sealer torta tres leches, normally toothachingly sweet, is surprisingly light here.
Venue name: Cuba Cafe
Address: 200 Eighth Ave
New York
Cross street: between 20th and 21st Sts
Opening hours: Mon–Thu, Sun noon–11pm; Fri, Sat noon–midnight
Transport: Subway: C, E to 23rd St
Price: Average main course: $18. AmEx, MC, V
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