Zafra in Hoboken, NJ
Just stumbled on Zafra when I moved back into the neighborhood recently. The food is excellent, the owners/staff gracious - plus for those lucky enough to live in Hoboken, they deliver (sporadically.)
Definitely one of the few Hoboken eateries worth braving the parking - plus its thankfully off the beaten path of Washington St.
I went there with 2 friends on around July 5th. Everything we had was excellent. The owners and everyone who waited on us were delightful. It's a very cute small place with a lovely neighborhood feeling. We ordered 3 different shrimp dishes and shared around. I've been telling people about it ever since! Here is an abstract of the NYT review that I got from Proquest--I think this should be legal:
There are multiple snack items to choose from. Yuca fries are fried with a light hand and
served with a creamy cilantro mayonnaise redolent of garlic, allspice and cumin. While they
may have needed salt, their gratis counterpart, plantain chips, were properly seasoned and
eagerly consumed. These came with both the lulu sauce and Ms. [Maricel Presilla]'s romesco
sauce, made with almonds, red peppers, guajillo peppers and fire-roasted tomatoes.
Ecuadorean patties (liapingachos) intrigued me, as their center of queso blanco remained firm
even while surrounded by tender mashed potatoes pan-fried in achiote-infused oil. The aji
relish (tomato, red onion and cilantro) was refreshing, and the Ecuadorean tostado (toasted
Andean corn called cancha in Peru) added crunch. Ms. Presilla tosses these on any dish that
Patacones -- fried ''shoes'' of plantain topped with queso blanco and lulu sauce -- are another
winner, as are the regular tostones and sweeter platanos maduros. Aged slices of artisanal
Manchego cheese, topped with roasted peppers and caramelized tomatoes, gave me the first
taste of Ms. Presilla's mojo sauce, a mix of garlic, cumin, oregano and bitter orange juice. The
pressed Cuban sandwich, whose ham is marinated in the same orange juice along with
allspice, can be split into sections for the table. Hot olive oil garlic dressing, simply ladled over
romaine hearts, made for a simple yet elegant dish. The ''brick layer'' chicken-cilantro soup
smelled of chachucha pepper (similar in appearance to the Scotch bonnet but used for aroma
rather than heat).