Cabana is a Latin American/Cuban restaurant with locations in midtown Manhattan and in Forest Hills, Queens NY. I met a friend for dinner on a Wednesday night in Forest Hills. Parking was not easy around the business section of Forest Hills and the restaurant was filled. Music was a little loud, the diners were loud, and the wait staff moved very fast, weaving between tables.
Calamari Fra Diavolo: Average.
This was the special for the night. Salmon with wild rice and empanadas. Above average. The empanadas was a little soggy and greasy. The wild rice was the best part of the dish. The salmon was acceptable.
Churrasco latin american style skirt steak marinated in garlic and fresh herbs accompanied by chimichurri and cebollitas.
The cone of yellow rice and the refried beans.
What’s special about this place? Cabana has decent food and the atmosphere is buzzing and inviting. On a random Wednesday, it was very crowded with birthday parties. Would I return? Probably but I eel that the recent Latin American food that I had (i.e., Lola’s Mexican Kitchen and Cabana here) has not exceeded expectations even if Cabana is above average.
Note: CabanaRestaurant.com does not work. It hangs and hangs in the past 24 hours. As a digital marketer, that really upsets me. If you have an URL that is listed by Google, Yelp, Urbanspoon, and Menupages, your site needs to be up 99% of the time. It’s no longer that difficult to host a simple content site. Use WordPress like I am, for crying out loud.
This experience took place at
107-10 70th Rd
Forest Hills, NY 11375
A fellow blogger and I met at Sofrito, a Puerto Rican restaurant, to discuss our common interest and love for food. I chose Sofrito because I had always wanted to try this seemingly colorful and vibrant restaurant when looking in from the outside. When I arrived, I knew I would not to be disappointed. The decor of the restaurant was hip and slick with a bar dominating the entrance. Hopefully they would show us what #PuertoRicanFood was all about.
We quickly got seated. The waitress was very eager and moved us right along from drinks to ordering our entrée.
The plantain chips were paired with hummus. We asked and was told that it was indeed white bean hummus with garlic. It was very good. I could not stop dipping the chips into the hummus.
My friend ordered MAR Y TIERRA: grilled churrasco & shrimp scampi with fried green plantains & spinach. Since she could not decide whether to only have the churrasco or have the shrimp scampi, the combo was perfect. She loved it.
LATIN BOULLABAISE: Clams, mussels, shrimp, octopus, and calamari with brandy, saffron essence and lobster sofrito broth. This dish outperformed expectations. I ordered it because I love boullabaise but had low expectations. Did not think the Latin could do better than the French when it came to boullabaise. I was happy that the saffron essence and the lobster broth really made the dish shine. I thoroughly enjoyed it and polished the entire bowl off. I think my new friend was amazed at how much I ate that night.
Needless to say, I highly recommend Sofrito in White Plains.
This experience took place at
Sofrito White Plains
175 Main Street
White Plains, NY 10601
A friend took me to this hole in the wall, Ripe Kitchen and Bar, in Mount Vernon, NY, for Jamaican and Caribbean food. After we parked, the first thing he said to me was, “Don’t worry. The neighborhood is ok.” Since I grew up in the “busy” part of the Bronx and have good situational awareness, I was not bothered by the colorful and diverse showing of the people and the bars on the windows. But I was surprised after we entered the dark restaurant and went to the back yard. The backyard felt like an oasis on this sunny August afternoon in NY. See picture below.
The food was excellent! The best dish of the night was the “Big-Ass” steak! I had the curried goat and it was no comparison to the steak. I was very happy that my friend shared his steak. The steak was marinated thoroughly and the char was nice and even on the outside. Inside, it was as ordered – medium. It was tender and it was tasty. When my friend ordered the steak, he said to the waitress, “Medium. Medium.” Not once but twice and with a head nod and eye contact. Later, he explained that when a black man orders a medium steak, one must insist otherwise the presumption is “a black man wants a well-done steak no matter what he says.” That was education for me.
This is the banana boat, plantain with salted fish, fish roes and sour cream. The contrast between the sweet and the salty was interesting, not necessarily my cup of tea since the salted fish reminded me of the Taiwanese sticky rice bun. The worlds did not collide for me on this dish.
This is jerk chicken wings. Pretty awesome. A little tangy and a little crispy.
This is the curried goat which was much better the next day as lunch. But heavy. Be aware – it’s heavy.
All in all, it was a great dinner in Mount Vernon where I could feel and taste the winds and the sands of the Caribbean. I highly recommend the place and the “Big-Ass” steak!
This experience took place at the
Ripe Kitchen & Bar
151 West Sandford Boulevard
Mount Vernon, NY 10550