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CafeCito for Cuban food- thoughts?

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My wife loves Cuban food. In the recession we want to watch what we spend. City Search had great ratings for CafeCito but I wanted some real foodie advice. Go or no go? If no go- where in Manhattan?

Looking forward to responses.

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  1. It's okay. Nothing amazing. The service was terrible on the night I went with a young college age waitstaff that obviously thought waiting tables was beneath them. The wait at the door was much longer then they told us, partly because the guy seating people just wasn't seating anyone despite the empty tables. There were a lot of large groups which made the cramped space feel even more cramped. My skirt steak sandwich was tough, and lacked much in the way of Cuban flavoring beyond lime juice and salt.

    8 Replies
    1. re: sugartoof

      I haven't been there for quite some time (probably a few years, which should immediately devalue what I'm going to say), but my impression was that the food was good, not great (more or less as sugartoof says). I liked their picadilla pretty well, though. I seem to remember they served ridiculously sweet mojitos, but perhaps it was some other cocktail. I live relatively close to Cafecito (probably a 10-minute walk), and it says something that I haven't yet felt impelled to go back. I think it's worth trying if you're in the area, but not a place to take a trip just to go to.

      1. re: Pan

        Yeah that was really it, I left thinking "eh I don't know if I'd go back" and I haven't been back. Cortadito gets uneven reviews but when it's good it's light years superior and not far from Cafecito location wise.

        1. re: sugartoof

          I haven't been to Cortadito. Tell me more.

          1. re: Pan

            It's small. Amazing plantains, and the Yucatan fries with some kind of dipping sauce were some of the best fries I've ever had. It's just simple well made food. Prices aren't dirt cheap but I thought it was reasonable enough. Unfortunately many of the yelp reviews sound like mine, talking about one the best meals they've had in a while, and then there's the update, let down after a return visit. So I'm not sure what it's like since it's been about a year since I was there, but it sounds hit or miss lately.

            1. re: sugartoof

              I'll keep that in mind. So it's a Yucateca restaurant, or just a Mexican place with some Yucateca items?

              1. re: Pan

                It's Cuban they just serve Yuca Frita.

                There are no Mexican dishes there, just latin, like Ropa Vieja (which was very good when I had it).
                http://www.cafecortadito.com/menu2.html

                I thin the NYT's gave them a write up recently....and the newer reviews on yelp sound back to form. So yeah this over CafeCito any day.

                1. re: sugartoof

                  I see. Yuca, not Yucatan.

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    i, too, thought the ropa was very good.

      2. Sophie's or Havana Chelsea.

        4 Replies
        1. re: guttergourmet

          Sophie's? Please explain. What have you had there that was notable?
          They're a bit of a chain at this point, but I've only ever had the pressed sandwich which was pretty junky. Their empanadas and meat pies are really good as a take out thing but I think this is more just generic latin food stand then Cuban. Is there something to order you suggest?

          1. re: sugartoof

            I usually stick with the cubano or the medianoche sandwiches at Sophie's which I think are pretty good. Maybe not up to Miami (or my Cuban wife's and mother-in-law's), but good for a fix. Sophie's is definitely Cuban as opposed to a lot of Dominican and Puerto Rican places that offer some Cuban snadwiches and dishes. Margon (Dominican) makes a good cubano too if you don't mind adding salami as does Castillo de Jagua (also Dominican). See other threads on best cubanos in NYC.

            1. re: guttergourmet

              Wow, well it sure sounds like you should know a good cuban, but I'm kind of surprised by these suggestions.

              I've have the Cubanos at both Sophies, and Havana Chelsea (I think you mean Havana Central, on 17th?) and the pork tasted more like it had one layer of cheap deli ham, jarred sliced pickles, cheap Golds mustard, and tasteless bread. I'm far from an authority on what would be authentic, but these places are not using good ingredients and I came away feeling like I was eating a generic ham sandwich that was greasy, lukewarm, and not even good, that happened to be pressed for a minute. Obviously we've had different experiences, or tastes. As for Sophie's I do think the City Hall/Tribeca location is best for lunch, if you're going to give them a shot.

              1. re: sugartoof

                updated to say i went past the 23rd street sophie's and it looked like they had shredded pork in the case for their cubanos. that's different then what i got from the now defunct midtown location.