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May 8, 2007 12:21 PM

El Sitio on Roosevelt downhill alert!!!

Well I should have done my research prior to going here for a cuban but Jim always seems to be ahead of his time. I went in there innocent and blind and said to myself if this is what a great cuban tastes like Cubans don't know good chow. I'm assuming this place was in its prime in the 60s-80s and then nosedived. Its sad because its a nice little hole in the wall friendly staff but the Cuban was downright nasty. The pork was so grey and inedible I had to take it off. The rest of the grilled ham n cheese with pickes n mustard just wasn't tasty. The saving grace of this place is they make a mean cuban coffee and the cafe con leche was one of the best cups of joe I ever had. They make it to order, use steamed milk thats filtered and serve it up piping hot. As a first time cuban eater I hope I can find the real deal when it comes to the highly revered Cubano. After doing some research Jim posted about 5 years ago that this place was on the skids.

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  1. About six months ago I ordered a Cubano to go. I took a couple of bites and threw it in the garbage. Disgusting pork and so was everything else including the bread. A disgrace to Cuban Cuisine.

    1. There was an older gentleman making the cubanos who is no longer there. When he made them they were wonderful. He left maybe 2 years ago. Since then they've been getting more and more disappointing with each visit. I must say I've never had anything that was inedible it's just not as good as it was.

      1. In my opinion, El Sitio saw its decline more than 10 years ago, possibly even more. As someone who grew up just a few blocks away from the restaurant, I can attest to how good and comforting the food used to be in the late 70s, early 80s. I recently posted about how bad my experience was upon ordering a cubano. It was quite similar to yours. It's a shame because this used to be one the nicest family restaurants with good food and friendly service in Woodside.

        8 Replies
        1. re: sandrina

          I agree. If you want good latino food try Dorado on 82nd between Roosevelt and Baxter. The steak w/ onions and pork chops are great. They also have chinese food which IMHO is better than most places

          1. re: Mcheck57

            Thanks for the Dorado recommendation. I know the place you're talking about. Walked by many times. It has steam tables in the front. I'll try it. Several Cubans I know rave about Rincon Criollo in Corona which is on my list. One Cuban posted a message that the food was as good as his 93 year old Grandmother but not on this board.

            1. re: Mike V

              Wow! That surprises me. In the many years that this Cuban family has been living in Jackson Heights, we have been consistently disappointed with the food at Rincon Criollo. As a matter of fact, we've nicknamed the place "Rincon Grasoso" (greasy corner). In all fairness, in a time span of approximately 30 years, I've been to RC approximately 5 times, always with family that has insisted on trying the place. Greasy, salty food is a huge disappointment. My belief is that it's probably lasted as long as it has simply because there aren't many Cuban options to be had in the neighborhood. There used to be a Cuban restaurant on Roosevelt many years back called El Bohio. It was also a family style restaurant, but the food was much better. Unfortunately the place closed once the proprietor became seriously ill, and the wife didn't want to continue the business without her husband. We were familiar with one of the waiters at the place, who also used to be the waiter for many years at El Sitio in Woodside. That was back in the heyday of El Sitio. He left when the place went downhill. After many years and after El Bohio closed, we came to find him in a Cuban restaurant located on Bergenline Ave. in Jersey. I remember mentioning Rincon Criollo to him, and he warned us that we would be disappointed with the food. He was right.

              1. re: sandrina

                Sandrina, thanks for the response. When I'm in the mood for a Cuban lunch, I'll return to Cabana in Forest Hills where I've never been disappointed. Good food, drinks, atmosphere, service and great lunch prices.

                1. re: sandrina

                  I've eaten at Rincon Criollo a lot more times than five and I've never been disappointed. I always order the daily special.


                  1. re: sandrina

                    Wow, El Bohio, one of my original chow faves! I wouldn't say I've forgotten about it -- rather that I had to stop thinking about it because I realized its absence still made me sad. I ate meals there a number of times, but what stands out in my memory is sitting at the counter for coffee and dessert -- we often stopped in after eating dinner elsewehere. Hard to find good flan at a simple restaurant like that. Always wondered why it closed - sorry to hear it was due to illness.

                    Last time I looked, which I confess was probably a couple of years ago, that Peruvian place was in that space -- something Limena. Nice people also.

              2. re: sandrina

                Yep, Sandrina, more than ten. But let's give it it's due....this was the grandaddy of cuban luncheonettes once.

                Wonder how their astoria branch (31st and I think 36th ave) is these days. Used to be better than the Woodside one.

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  Jim, I don't dispute that El Sitio was once considered a place for good food and that it rightfully earned its place in Queens as the "grandaddy of cuban luncheonettes." As a matter of fact, as bad as I feel the place has gotten lately, it would still make me quite sad to see it close its doors for good. This place holds many tender memories of my childhood...birthday celebrations, graduations, friends and family. I remember the days when the dining room was jammed with customers and one had to wait for a table to become available. The counter service was equally as good with knowledgeable and friendly waiters offering tips on what was the best item for the day. I can't opine on the Astoria branch, as we never found the need to venture out there. If it still exists, we might just try it out. We've given up on the Woodside locale.

              3. If you want a good Cubano, you can go To el Nuevo Cibao in Brooklyn, however its not actually a Cuban Restaurant.

                3 Replies
                1. re: jason carey

                  Rincon Criollo, is good, it ain't Miami, but it's okay...try the new takeout Cabana on Austin Street in Forest husband's eaten there about every day for lunch for the last 2 weeks since they opened, he works 2 blocks from there...great $5.50 lunch special, excellent beef picadillo, and grilled chicken breast..however maduras are hit or miss..good rice and beans..

                  1. re: janie

                    Janie, based on your husband's recommendation, next time I'm in Forest Hills, I plan to take home the beef picadillo. I've always been a fan of the Latin Cabana in Astoria. The problem with the one in Forest Hills is seating. Astoria branch has lots of seating. Your husband is fortunate that he can order and take it to his place of business just 2 blocks from Latin Cabana (Not Cabana). When I'm in Forest Hills for lunch and want great Cuban food, atmosphere and service, I prefer Cabana located at 10710 70th Road. Lunch is not $5.99 but $10.00 which I consider much better value which includes soup or salad. Cabana is a class act - Latin Cabana is not.

                    1. re: Mike V

                      Yes, that's exactly what he does, he goes to the office and eats it there in peace...there is nowhere to sit there, and it's tiny and cramped and too busy for the space they are in...he also says you need to go when the trays are pretty full which is pretty early sometimes towards late afternoon, there is nothing left, and quality can plummet...he also likes the chicken breast pieces sauteed with peppers...We used to eat at Cabana years ago...but it's a bit expensive---however their garlic chicken used to be very good..sometimes we go for lunch once in awhile...and it's always usually good..and yes, the atmosphere is mellow at lunch time, and they are very nice there...too bad the Latin Cabana didn't take over the big Bang Bang space that's empty on Austin...gee I wonder if it will be another Commerce Bank, or perhaps another Hair Salon...there are only 20 of those in the vicinity...........

                2. Completely and utterly on target. I do maintain that as near as two years ago this place still has its charms, but since they don't have a single Cuban left on staff the food quality has nose dived. Dragged a friend in from the City and was embarrassed. Never again. One saving grace: in a neighborhood where it's hard to get good coffee, they can still manage the expresso machine.