Sophie’s Cuban

28 E 23rd St. New York, NY 10010(212) 260-8884sophiescuban.com/28e23rd

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This is not the place to go for decor. The service is usually friendly, but this isn’t the place for that either. However, if it’s Cuban fast food you’re in search of, welcome to Havana-gri la. Well, almost. The fact that they don’t nail the cubano is a bone of contention with me. But that rather major ding aside, they have two winners I highly, HIGHLY recommend. So high you’ll get altitude sickness from the height at which these dishes play.

The first is the spicy grilled chicken platter.  It’s basically a hearty version of arroz con pollo served up with a nice helping of marinated peppers and onions, yellow rice, black beans and sweet plantains. Add a little of their green hot sauce and you’ll be doing the Cha-cha-cha.

The second thing might even be better than the first. It’s called the “Pernil with a twist” (pictured), which sounds more like an exotic cocktail or a secret dive performed by Rodney Dangerfield in “Back to School,” but regardless of what it sounds like, WOW is it good. It’s served on the same bread as a cubano, topped with huge chunks of roast pork, marinated onions, plantains, mayo and hot sauce. And it is a game changer.

3 teeth

 

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Yuca

501 Lincoln Rd • Miami Beach, FL 33139 • (305) 532-9822 • yuca.com

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Yuca is Yucko. And I find it egregious that a New York Magazine article actually recommend this tourist trap, deeming it great for people watching, or as I would more accurately describe it, rubber-necking, because it’s like a parade of fashion train wrecks marching by. So, for a minute let’s just indulge the entertainment value of the passersby and maybe that gets you to one knife, but once the novelty of watching cows strut past in fishnets and neon thongs you eventually turn your attention to the plate, and that’s when the seven car pile up really gets going.

For example, the habanero guacamole was overly pureed and under spicy, served with unsweetened plantain chips that tasted like balsa wood. Such a simple dish, yet they managed to fuck it up three times over.

Another simple dish, and tapas favorite, turned to trash were the bacon wrapped dates. So dry, the Sahara is suing for copyright infringement. If you want to try a nailed version of the same, go to Boqueria in New York.

Even the empanadas were emperfect. Once again, too dry and lacking any sort of complexity of flavor. In fact, the only thing we had that night worth chewing was the plantain crusted mahi mahi served with sweet plantain mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley. Yet again the fish was dry, but the other flavors kept it interesting enough to actually eat.

Then, once again it was back to shitsville as the chocolate tres leche with homemade chocolate ice cream hit the table. It was so bad we left more than half of it stranded on the plate. And the other half I wish I could’ve given to a homeless person on the way back to the hotel, but that would’ve been too cruel.

1 tooth