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Review: Cantina ... Excellent!

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A friend and I dined at Cantina last night (Saturday), 29 Avenue B at 2nd Street.

We did not have a reservation, but Toni took our name and when we arrived at 9:30, we were immediately seated (while others waited). Shortly thereafter we were greeted by Cantina's owner, Jason Swamy.

Cantina has a warm, friendly atmosphere. The restaurant is very small, and we were seated at a two-top with "neighbors" rubbing elbows on both sides. It was tight, but our neighbors were friendly young people, and we had a good time. Sound level is, obviously, loud.

Cantina is BYOB. Knowing this in advance thankfully, we arrived with plenty of wine for the evening.

Your placemat is the menu. "Pinchos" range from warm Spanish olives ($5) to decadent smoked chicken croquettes ($9). Our favorite dish was the sliced jamon serrano & manchego cheese plate ($9).

For our 2nd course, we chose one "bocadillo," an absolutely extraordinary sandwich with serrano jamon, manchego, aioli and pickles ($9). Words can't describe how delicious this simple sandwich really is. You must try it.

We also chose the restaurant's signature item, the pork shoulder dulce de leche ($16). It, too, was delicious, full of flavor but not too "wet" as such dishes can be. We sampled our neighbors' braised oxtail ($17) and it was great.

We ordered churros with saffron chocolate ($7) for dessert, and Toni was kind enough to bring the flan with kahlua caramel ($5) as well because we "just had to try it." Both desserts were excellent.

Along with our BYOB wine, we ordered a large bottle of Peligrino ($7).

We shall return to Cantina, soon.

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