Fact: New York boasts some of the best food in the world. In particular, the city’s Cuban food scene has been going strong for decades, and some of the best Cuban cuisine chefs have made their homes right here in NYC. Bringing the bright flavors of their home country and taking New Yorkers along for the ride, it’s no secret why we have the closest avant-garde flavors and dishes to Cuba itself. If you’re looking for a little slice of Havana, start planning your visit to one of these best Cuban restaurants in NYC!
1. La Floridita, Washington Heights
Located in Harlem near the famous Cotton Club, La Floridita is a Cuban diner featuring a wide assortment of appetizers along with some excellent Cuban entree favorites. On weekend evenings you can even find regulars tearing it up on the dance floor to some lively Cuban music.
No matter when you attend, expect to find plenty of snacks and small plates, but also some very large plates too. Our personal favorites on the menu include the arroz con pollo starred with chorizo, kingfish, and their specialty bistec de palomilla, consisting of a thin marinated steak grilled with caramelized onions.
Where: 2276 12th Ave or 4162 Broadway (2 locations)
2. Victor’s Cafe, Midtown
A bustling and upscale spot in the Theater District, Victor’s Cafe boasts excellent ambiance and decor to go along with savory Cuban meals. Victor’s takes the full dining experience seriously, with an ornate dining area featuring authentic Cuban art and kitschy details, such as the monkeys holding table lamps.
Victor’s has been in New York since 1963, originally on the Upper West Side and now run by the founder’s daughter, Sonia Zaldivar. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy several of their house cocktails in the lounge, where Cuban jazz combos occasionally serenade customers. The layout is old-school, reminiscent of 1950s-style nightclubs.
The appetizers and entrees are some of the best versions in the city, particularly the ropa vieja. If you’re a first-time customer, start with the appetizer or a shareable to get your tastebuds going!
Where: 236 W 52nd St
3. Havana Central, Times Square
Another Cuban flagship located in the heart of the Theater District is Havana Central, a dimly lit but highly decorated Cuban getaway. Their menu is straight-forward and offers classic cuisine like sandwiches Cubano and arroz con pollo. Our recommendation though is trying out one of their fall specials like the corn “ribs” and finishing it off with the pumpkin gingerbread pudding.
Where: 151 W 46th St
4. Guantanamera, Columbus Circle & Queens
Catch live Cuban performances just about any night of the week at Guantanamera in Midtown. They have great happy hours, great sandwich Cubanos and calamares fritos that are out of this world. Be sure to join in the dance party when the music starts to match the energy of your delicious food! Plus they have two locations in Hell’s Kitchen and Queens.
Manhattan – 939 8th Ave
Queens – 110-80 Queens Blvd, Queens
5. Zona de Cuba, The Bronx
This rooftop Cuban restaurant is the closest feeling to Havana, and we simply can’t get enough. Zona de Cuba in The Bronx boasts a supreme atmosphere to enjoy a Caribbean meal, all thanks to their tropical aesthetic, plush furniture, and delicious signature cocktails. We recommend making reservations, especially since the roof is a hot ticket to snag!
Where: 558 Grand Concourse, The Bronx
6. Café Habana, SoHo & Midtown
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Café Habana is an NYC staple and its for a good reason. Their menu is short and sweet and they have one of the best Cuban snacks in the city, the grilled corn. Topped with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder & lime, this snack is utterly mouthwatering and an absolutely must-order if you go. Of course their Cuban sandwich is delightful as well as their Casamigos-powered cocktails!
SoHo – 17 Prince St
Midtown – 307 W 38th St
7. Margon, Times Square
Margon is a cute little Times Square lunch counter that serves some of the best Cuban dishes in the city. Even if you’re not hungry, it’s worth it to stop by Margon just for the nostalgia of its rare rotating stools and orange formica tables. Its rotating classics and occasional Dominican meals are worth planning for, but you can always rely on excellent Cuban sandwiches, octopus salad, and lechon asado (spice-rubbed roast pork).
Where: 136 W 46th St
8. Cuba Restaurant and Rum Bar, Greenwich Village
The name says it all. One of the newer Cuban restaurants in NYC, Cuba Restaurant and Rum Bar specializes in a wide selection of rums and cocktails made to wash down Cuban mainstays like ropa vieja (shredded beef), camarones al ajillo (garlic shrimp), and arroz con pollo criolla (chicken cooked with rice, Creole-style).
A small venue with big flavor, Cuba Restaurant borrows from other Latin American countries to build its menu, which is greatly appreciated by its customers, who also brag about the strong mojitos and intimate ambiance.
Where: 222 Thompson St
9. Rincon Criollo, Queens
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Located in Corona, this mainstay is festooned with images of pre-Castro national figures, as well as Cuban baseball players, Cuban-American leaders, maps of the island, and other colorful memorabilia. The food is of course excellent as well, featuring picadillo (ground beef and olives), or the exquisite chicharron de pollo (garlic-smeared, bone-in fried chicken).
A hub of the Cuban-American community in Queens since 1976, Rincon Criollo boasts a fun, friendly, and lively atmosphere that is a delight for customers of all ages and backgrounds. You feel like you’re dining with a Cuban family in Havana.
Where: 40-09 Junction Blvd, Queens
10. Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine, Various Locations
Before you overlook this chain of Cuban spots throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, consider their menu and the speed at which you can get your food to go. Made for office workers, these lunch counters still serve excellent Cuban staples, such as the oregano-infused lechon asado (roast pork) with black beans, and fried sweet plantains, or the unique guava and cheese empanadas. Other menu highlights include fried fish and yuca croquettes.
Convenience and taste come together at Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine, where you can still get an authentic Cuban cuisine experience on the go.
Where: Find your location here
11. My Cuban Spot, Gowanus
My Cuban Spot a quaint eatery that features a modest indoor seating section, a plentiful outside dining section, and affordable Cuban eats. Modeled after Calle Ocho in Miami which features a plethora of swinging Cuban joints, this restaurant has a fun and welcoming atmosphere for everyone. Some of our favorite hilariously-named options include the “I’m Broke B*tch” bowl (three sunnyside-up eggs and chicken-flavored rice) and the “Somethin Fishy Going On” (rice and beans with the seasoned fish of the day). The Cuban coffee is also a must-try!
Where: 488 Carroll St, Brooklyn
12. Pilar Cuban Eatery, Bed-Stuy
This Brooklyn Cuban eatery is dedicated to preserving Classic Cuban cuisine – in its purest form – but from a modern, elevated and updated approach. Their iconic dishes are sourced with ingredients that are traditional to Cuban food like sour oranges, cachucha peppers, and authentic Cuban bread, and making their meals the most authentic around! Their empanadas and Yuca fries are just some of our favorite choices, but don’t forget one of their rum cocktails and bakery treats.
Where: 397 Greene Ave, Brooklyn
13. The Cuban, Queens & Long Island
Although it’s a little outside of NYC, The Cuban is definitely worth the drive and worth your money! Between their live entertainment, strong cocktails, and dazzling Cuban dishes, you’re getting an all-inclusive experience all at once. Their space even turns into a party at night when they welcome in everyone from mariachi bands to Cuban DJs!
Long Island – 987 Stewart Avenue, Garden City, NY
Queens – 39-17 Bell Blvd, Queens
14. Cabana, Forest Hills
We first found Cabana and we were over in Queens during the US Open, and it’s safe to say we will be making frequent returns because it’s just so good! They’ve been serving Nuevo Latino cuisine since 1995 and have some of the freshest ingredients around. We recommend splitting some empanadas jamaiquinas with someone special before devouring one of their mouthwatering entrees.
Manhattan – 939 8th Ave
Queens – 110-80 Queens Blvd
15. Amor Cubano, UES
Last but certainly not least on our list is Amor Cubano, a spot with live music, great ambiance, exceptional hospitality, and of course great food. Let’s start with their mojito list, which might be one of the best in the city. Choose between some of our favorites like the pomegranite mojito or the flavorful pina mojito. As for the food, you can’t really go wrong with the ropa vieja or a flavor-filled paella, two of their plentiful house classics to choose from. Get ready to feel the loving island atmosphere here because the vibes are definitely on point.
Where: 2018 3rd Ave