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Mar 15, 1999 10:25 PM

Cuban and Calle Ocho

  • d

Yesterday, I finally tried the cuban sandwich at
Havana Chelsea Luncheonette on 8th ave. and 21st. It
is clearly a BIGGER sandwich than the competition, but
I don't think it's necessarily better. Tasty but a
slight disappointment (a little dry). The chicken
asopado was fine but undistinguished. Fun atmosphere
and warm service. The gentleman at the next table
insisted on flossing his teeth meticulously, but
otherwise, worth a stop but not a sidetrip.

Tonight, two friends and I, with fingers crossed,
visited Calle Ocho for the first time, and I'm
delighted to say that we had a terrific meal. The
octupus salad, the rellenos with spicy chicken, the
coriander crusted tuna with (fantastic) orange cabbage
and sofrito, the red snapper -- no losers in the
bunch. We were too full for desserts.

The waiter was helpful and recommended a wonderful
Argentinian Cabernet that was $6 a glass or $26 for
the bottle -- a terrific value. Nice beer selection,
too, both in bottles and drafts.

The space is recognizable as Main Street's, but the
room's feel has been transformed. Very pleasant and
warm and modern at the same time. The bar is smoky
beyond belief; but if you can tolerate smoke, there
are nice spots to eat and drink.

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  1. No surprise (at least to me) that you liked Calle
    Ocho. The chef Alex Garcia has been Doug Rodriguez's
    (of Patria) sous-chef for many years dating back to
    the days of Yuca in Miami.

    Glad we agree on these two Latino places.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gary Cheong

      agree w/you Gary about Garcia. his old place,Erizio, on wbway in soho, was dynamite

      1. re: Gary Cheong

        If anything, Gary, the meal at Calle Ocho was more
        consistent than my recent meal at Patria's, although
        the highs might not have been quite as high.