Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Restaurant: Cafecito

Usually when I venture down to Avenue C for food I head further downtown, but on a recent trip I was convinced to make a left instead of a right. Cafecito from the outside doesn't quite give you a sense of traditional Cuban anything. Once you step in the door and spread open the curtains, you are immediately aware of two distinct Cuban elements, the somewhat loud music (which I think was Cuban), and a great smell of garlic and delicious warming bread. Sadly, I wasn't that hungry when I went, and was a little sick, so I didn't get to try as many things as I would have liked. A small bar in the front lets you have some drinks and watch football if you don't feel like sitting in the back dining room. In the summer I believe you can sit outside on the sidewalk, but in the winter...well have fun with that.

Although I have never been to Cuba the food tasted and seemed extremely authentic. It's no frills good delicious cooking. I started with the simple Sopa De Pollo, or chicken soup. I have this secret love of chicken soup (maybe it's a Jewish thing?) and I really enjoy trying other cultures versions of it. This version was nice and rich, full of big chunks of chicken and some delicious fresh cilantro. The bread that came with it was great for sopping up the broth, but one major problem, I nearly choked to death on a small chicken bone. I know these can be missed, but I usually don't like the threat of choking to death with a meal.

The main dishes were much better and extremely well priced. I got the Masitas De Puerco which consisted of huge tender chunks of mojo marinated pork with tons of grilled onions and a roasted corn and sweet potato hash. A little bit of pork, a slice of grilled onion and some hash with a few drops of fresh lime was a delicious bite, although some the onions could have managed to be on the grill for a few minutes longer. While full of flavor, I was craving some sort of sauce to tie it all together, but instead relied upon the plentiful amount of limes provided. My dining companion had the Camarones Al Ajillo and I was pretty jealous from the start. The large shrimp were in a small bread stew with garlic, butter and lime. The bread absorbed all the flavor and was maybe the highlight of the dish, but then again, sweet plantains are an experience by themselves, and there were quite a few on the plate.

I will definitely be back, since the steaks I saw coming out of the kitchen when I walked in had a beautiful green Cuban chimcurri sauce which I have to try, and everything is so cheap. One very very important note. They don't take credit cards, so come prepared with cash so you don't get stuck like I did running to an ATM when they hand you back your credit card.

Visit Cuba without violating US Foreign Policy

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