Cafecito is located out in the Alphabet City section of East Village. It’s a homey yet festive restaurant that focuses on very good Cuban food.
We started with a strong yet fruity mango margarita ($7) and a Materva ($4), a non-alcoholic yerba mate soda. The soda is sweet, herbaceous and grassy.
Our server suggested to us to do a sampler platter of their appetizers, the saboricito de Cuba ($14). It’s a large platter filled with chicken and beef empanadas that had flaky crusts and flavorful fillings. Ham and cheese croquettes, crispy fried plantain chips, a papa rellena (savory potato croquette stuffed with meat and raisins), and a Cuban slider that is interestingly sweet and savory. All were great especially with the ajillio sauce (a garlic sauce based in vinegar). We were also given a platter of camarones al ajillo and yucca fries, which were as equally delicious.
The churrasco ($23) is a generous helping of skirt steak (that is works well with the green jalapeno hot sauce that tastes really fresh and more of a tongue tingling spicy than the entire mouth and throat kind of painful burn) with sides of tostones (fried plantains), yellow rice and black beans.
The day’s special of braised pork shank, mojo with a side of maduros, black beans and rice ($28) was absolutely my dining companion and I’s favorite dish. This hunk of pork was lovingly braised with mojo (a type of vegetable and garlic based marinade) for six hours then roasted in the oven to achieve that wonderful crust. The mojo is then blended to a fine chunky texture that tastes amazing with this fork-tender pork. The sweet maduros were great and the white rice and beans were classic Latin sides. This is the kind of dish I wish and gladly eat if I were at a Cuban grandmother’s home.
For dessert, we shared tres leches cake ($6.50) with pineapple and flan ($4.50). Both are traditional desserts that were texturally great but a too sweet for my preference. The flan was textbook sublime as to how silky and dense the custard was. The tres leches cake was incredibly moist but the pineapples and possibly the milks used to soak that cake made this very good cake, too sweet.
Overall, this is a great restaurant for tasty, old school cooking, Cuban food. The staff is gracious and knowledgeable with the food and the prices are reasonable for the large portions you would get.
To view more photos of this meal, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):
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185 Avenue C
New York, NY 10009
Telephone: (212) 253-9966