South American on Upper East Side? Nina's, Gauchas, or Zebu?
Has anyone been to any of these places recently? How are the food, prices, authenticity, and drink list? Dying for some good empanadas or Brazilian shrimp dishes like bobo de camarao. Thanks! What are the service and atmosphere like? Meeting an old friend around that neighborhood, and have heard good things about the east 90s.
Have only been to Zebu Grill - several times now - really like it - great chicken empanadas. Service has always been warm and friendly (w/o being overly so) - staff all seems to be Brazilian. Took friends who lived in Brazil for several years and they thought it was quite authentic. They even have a Brazilian pinot noir - not that I'd particularly recommend it.
this is probably a little grungier than what you were looking for, but there's a great cheap peruvian hole-in-the-wall called pio pio's on 1st ave around 91st. delicious, cheap roast chicken, great sides, and strong, tasty sangria. may have to wait a bit if you go at a busy time, but definitely worthwhile and affordable.
i believe the original (and supposedly better-tasting) location is over in queens.
I have been to Zebu many times and I like it a lot. It's inexpensive, and both the food and the service are quite good. I love their Moranga Recheada (squash filled with vegetables and chicken) and the aipim (yuca fries). They don't have Bobo', but they do make a good moqueca (fish stew). And the pasteis (empanadas) are quite good. They make caipirinhas with lime and other fruits. Try the pudim for dessert, it's quite good.
I have been to Zebu Grill and also really like it. It was a while ago and I haven't been back, but I think I had a steak and the person I was with had salmon. It's cute inside, not too big or small.
I also second Pio Pio though, it is one of my favorite neighborhood places and I eat there regularly. It is a total hole in the wall and there is usually a wait. The menu is also very limited. If you don't want great chicken with tostones, fries, avocado salad and rice, don't go. You can also leave there for $20 a person. I always drink the sangria.
Gauchas Empanadas is also good for Argentinean. They have great empanadads for only 2 bucks made in the Argentinean style. My favorite is the spinach and cheese but the meat is good too. I have had churrasco there as well, also pretty good but more expensive for sit down dinner.