clock menu more-arrow no yes
Lechon asado from Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine
Robert Sietsema

10 Standout Cuban Restaurants In and Around NYC

Where to find crisp pork sandwiches, steaming cups of coffee, and Chinese-Cuban fusion

View as Map
Lechon asado from Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine
| Photo by Robert Sietsema

The delights of Cuban food are many: perfect cafecito (sweet espresso) or steaming hot café con leche at bargain prices, a pressed sandwich filled with garlicky roast pork, and affordable and fortifying plates of white rice and black beans, often mixed together in a signature dish called Moros y Cristianos (“Moors and Christians”).

Once upon a time neighborhoods like Chelsea, the Upper West Side, Astoria, and Corona were paved with Cuban cafes, though Union City, New Jersey still is. Sadly, the number of working class Cuban lunch counters in the city has dwindled, though with the recent renewed interest in Cuba, more upscale places have appeared.

Here is a guide to the best spots located in and around New York City, according to Eater senior critic Robert Sietsema — from the best place in town, Rincon Criollo, to a Times Square restaurant with old-timey decor.

Note: This map is arranged geographically from north to south.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Harlem's Floridita

Copy Link
2276 12th Ave
New York, NY 10027
(212) 662-0090
Visit Website

Near the Cotton Club, La Floridita represents a combination of diner and nightclub, with music to match weekend evenings. The menu is vast, which means plenty of snacks in addition to entrees that include huge plates of arroz con pollo studded with chorizo, kingfish Creole style, and bistec de palomilla, a thin marinated steak grilled with caramelized onions. Portions are large enough to be shared.

Tamal de cerdo
Robert Sietsema

2. Dos Amigos

Copy Link
5300 Bergenline Ave
West New York, NJ 07093
(201) 348-2255
Visit Website

The most popular sandwich of Union City’s Cuban community is not the Cubano or the media noche, but rather a pressed sandwich made with steak called pan con bistec. The version at Dos Amigos — an ancient lunch counter repurposed for modern usage — is filled with onions and french fries and is way too big for one person to eat. Fresh squeezed juices round out the menu at this wonderful and unusual place.

Pan con bistec
Robert Sietsema

3. La Caridad 78

Copy Link
2199 Broadway
New York, NY 10024
(212) 874-2780
Visit Website

One of the last remaining Cuban-Chinese restaurants on the Upper West Side was founded in 1968 by a Chinese family from Havana, and it has remained in that same family ever since. The Chinese menu has been expanded, but the Cuban bill of fare remains mired in time, with highlights that include chuletas fritas (fried pork chops), Spanish-style tortillas, and garlic-enhanced fried chicken. Or pick one of the platters that combine the two cuisines.

Fried chicken
Robert Sietsema

4. La Churreria Restaurant & Cafeteria Union City

Copy Link
3300 Bergenline Ave
Union City, NJ 07087
(201) 866-1501
Visit Website

Anchor of Union City’s Little Havana, this outsize Cuban cafeteria is a wild scene on the weekends, when it fills up with Cuban-American families. They relish the extended menu, which includes dishes from the countryside, fresh-squeezed juices, the linear doughnuts the place is named for, as well as a great Cuban sandwich. Thrill to try the tamal en cazuela, a soupy casserole of yellow cornmeal and pork seasoned with green pepper and onion.

Cuban sandwich
Robert Sietsema

5. Victor's Cafe

Copy Link
236 W 52nd St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 586-7714
Visit Website

Founded on the Upper West Side in 1963 but thereafter moved to the Theater District, Victor’s is NYC’s most venerable and luxurious Cuban restaurant, now run by Sonia Zaldivar, the founder’s daughter. The layout recalls 1950s nightclubs, in a room decorated with colorful tropical murals, while the sound of a jazz combo issues from the adjacent cocktail lounge. An appetizer platter contains empanadas, croquettes, yuca, and a tamal; entrees include the city’s most elegant ropa vieja and a lechon asado wearing a mortarboard of crisp pig skin.

Ropa vieja
Robert Sietsema

6. Margon

Copy Link
136 W 46th St
New York, NY 10036
(212) 354-5013
Visit Website

Even if it weren’t one of the city’s best Cuban restaurants, you’d want to visit Margon just for the décor: it’s an old-guard Times Square lunch counter with swirling stools and orange Formica tables. The place presents Cuban classics on a weekly rotating basis, along with some Dominican fare. But always available are Cuban sandwiches, bright red fricassee chicken, octopus salad, and lechon asado (spice-rubbed roast pork).

Pork roast and salad
Robert Sietsema

7. Rincon Criollo

Copy Link
40-09 Junction Blvd
Corona, NY 11368
(718) 458-0236
Visit Website

This Corona mainstay boasts walls extensively decorated with pre-Castro national heroes, Cuban-American community leaders, baseball players, and maps of the island, among other memorabilia. It is quite simply the best Cuban restaurant in town, as discovered through the picadillo (ground beef and green olives) or the magnificent, onion-littered chicharron de pollo (garlic-smeared, bone-in fried chicken).

Robert Sietsema

8. Cuba Restaurant and Rum Bar

Copy Link
222 Thompson St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 420-7878
Visit Website

Like many of the newer, boozier Cuban restaurants, this small place, tucked away in the older part of the Village, adds a few dishes from other Latin American cuisines to its menu. The Cuban food is surprisingly solid, with credible renditions of camarones al ajillo (garlic shrimp), ropa vieja (shredded beef), and arroz con pollo criolla (chicken cooked with rice, Creole-style), washed down with strong mojitos and awful sangria.

Robert Sietsema

9. Sophie's Cuban Cuisine

Copy Link
27 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 243-0911
Visit Website

These modern cafeterias, founded by a Peruvian family in 1997 and now with 10 locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, have streamlined Cuban cuisine for office workers, who throng the place at lunchtime. Try the oregano-flavored lechon asado (roast pork) with black beans, and fried sweet plantains; or check out the guava and cheese empanadas, fried fish, or yuca croquettes.

Lechon asado
Robert Sietsema

10. My Cuban Spot

Copy Link
488 Carroll St
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 855-1941
Visit Website

Near the Gowanus Canal is a new window with outdoor seating, said to evoke the swinging style of Miami’s Cuban restaurant-heavy street Calle Ocho. Cuban sandwiches are dispensed (including a version with croquettes tucked inside), as are empanadas. Dinners in a bowl feature picadillo, roast pork, and roast chicken. There’s also an egg dish with the indelicate name of “I’m broke bitch,” featuring three crisp sunny side-up eggs served on chicken-flavored rice. Cuban coffee is also available, and an enclosure will be soon be installed for indoor dining.

Eggs over chicken-flavored rice
Robert Sietsema

Loading comments...

1. Harlem's Floridita

2276 12th Ave, New York, NY 10027
Tamal de cerdo
Robert Sietsema

Near the Cotton Club, La Floridita represents a combination of diner and nightclub, with music to match weekend evenings. The menu is vast, which means plenty of snacks in addition to entrees that include huge plates of arroz con pollo studded with chorizo, kingfish Creole style, and bistec de palomilla, a thin marinated steak grilled with caramelized onions. Portions are large enough to be shared.

2276 12th Ave
New York, NY 10027

2. Dos Amigos

5300 Bergenline Ave, West New York, NJ 07093
Pan con bistec
Robert Sietsema

The most popular sandwich of Union City’s Cuban community is not the Cubano or the media noche, but rather a pressed sandwich made with steak called pan con bistec. The version at Dos Amigos — an ancient lunch counter repurposed for modern usage — is filled with onions and french fries and is way too big for one person to eat. Fresh squeezed juices round out the menu at this wonderful and unusual place.

5300 Bergenline Ave
West New York, NJ 07093

3. La Caridad 78

2199 Broadway, New York, NY 10024
Fried chicken
Robert Sietsema

One of the last remaining Cuban-Chinese restaurants on the Upper West Side was founded in 1968 by a Chinese family from Havana, and it has remained in that same family ever since. The Chinese menu has been expanded, but the Cuban bill of fare remains mired in time, with highlights that include chuletas fritas (fried pork chops), Spanish-style tortillas, and garlic-enhanced fried chicken. Or pick one of the platters that combine the two cuisines.

2199 Broadway
New York, NY 10024

4. La Churreria Restaurant & Cafeteria Union City

3300 Bergenline Ave, Union City, NJ 07087
Cuban sandwich
Robert Sietsema

Anchor of Union City’s Little Havana, this outsize Cuban cafeteria is a wild scene on the weekends, when it fills up with Cuban-American families. They relish the extended menu, which includes dishes from the countryside, fresh-squeezed juices, the linear doughnuts the place is named for, as well as a great Cuban sandwich. Thrill to try the tamal en cazuela, a soupy casserole of yellow cornmeal and pork seasoned with green pepper and onion.

3300 Bergenline Ave
Union City, NJ 07087

5. Victor's Cafe

236 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019
Ropa vieja
Robert Sietsema

Founded on the Upper West Side in 1963 but thereafter moved to the Theater District, Victor’s is NYC’s most venerable and luxurious Cuban restaurant, now run by Sonia Zaldivar, the founder’s daughter. The layout recalls 1950s nightclubs, in a room decorated with colorful tropical murals, while the sound of a jazz combo issues from the adjacent cocktail lounge. An appetizer platter contains empanadas, croquettes, yuca, and a tamal; entrees include the city’s most elegant ropa vieja and a lechon asado wearing a mortarboard of crisp pig skin.

236 W 52nd St
New York, NY 10019

6. Margon

136 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036
Pork roast and salad
Robert Sietsema

Even if it weren’t one of the city’s best Cuban restaurants, you’d want to visit Margon just for the décor: it’s an old-guard Times Square lunch counter with swirling stools and orange Formica tables. The place presents Cuban classics on a weekly rotating basis, along with some Dominican fare. But always available are Cuban sandwiches, bright red fricassee chicken, octopus salad, and lechon asado (spice-rubbed roast pork).

136 W 46th St
New York, NY 10036

7. Rincon Criollo

40-09 Junction Blvd, Corona, NY 11368
Robert Sietsema

This Corona mainstay boasts walls extensively decorated with pre-Castro national heroes, Cuban-American community leaders, baseball players, and maps of the island, among other memorabilia. It is quite simply the best Cuban restaurant in town, as discovered through the picadillo (ground beef and green olives) or the magnificent, onion-littered chicharron de pollo (garlic-smeared, bone-in fried chicken).

40-09 Junction Blvd
Corona, NY 11368

8. Cuba Restaurant and Rum Bar

222 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012
Robert Sietsema

Like many of the newer, boozier Cuban restaurants, this small place, tucked away in the older part of the Village, adds a few dishes from other Latin American cuisines to its menu. The Cuban food is surprisingly solid, with credible renditions of camarones al ajillo (garlic shrimp), ropa vieja (shredded beef), and arroz con pollo criolla (chicken cooked with rice, Creole-style), washed down with strong mojitos and awful sangria.

222 Thompson St
New York, NY 10012

9. Sophie's Cuban Cuisine

27 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Lechon asado
Robert Sietsema

These modern cafeterias, founded by a Peruvian family in 1997 and now with 10 locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, have streamlined Cuban cuisine for office workers, who throng the place at lunchtime. Try the oregano-flavored lechon asado (roast pork) with black beans, and fried sweet plantains; or check out the guava and cheese empanadas, fried fish, or yuca croquettes.

27 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

10. My Cuban Spot

488 Carroll St, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Eggs over chicken-flavored rice
Robert Sietsema

Near the Gowanus Canal is a new window with outdoor seating, said to evoke the swinging style of Miami’s Cuban restaurant-heavy street Calle Ocho. Cuban sandwiches are dispensed (including a version with croquettes tucked inside), as are empanadas. Dinners in a bowl feature picadillo, roast pork, and roast chicken. There’s also an egg dish with the indelicate name of “I’m broke bitch,” featuring three crisp sunny side-up eggs served on chicken-flavored rice. Cuban coffee is also available, and an enclosure will be soon be installed for indoor dining.

488 Carroll St
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Related Maps