By April Falco Lewandowski
One of my favorite things to do in my free time is go out for a great meal at a new restaurant. Luckily, I live in New Jersey where we have access to a bountiful supply of restaurants ranging from upscale fine dining to the local dives (where the food is so good you can ignore the decor). But, with all the great places to choose from, do any of them marry delicious cuisine, a magnificent view, and live entertainment, with a fun and inviting ambiance that stays open all night long? The answer is yes, and this little treasure called Son Cubano can be found in West New York, NJ, along the world famous Hudson River.
Son Cubano is the recipient of Open Table’s 2014 Diner’s Choice Award, which is not surprising given its amazing mix of art, music, flavors, and traditions dedicated to its Cuban heritage. When you eat here, you are not just getting a fabulous meal; you will also have a unique experience that leaves a lasting impression.
“The food and the ambiance are great, and there is a breathtaking view of the New York City skyline that you can’t get anywhere else,” says Michelle Machado, Event Coordinator for Son Cubano. “When you come here, it’s like you’re on vacation.”
And when you walk in the door, it certainly feels like you’ve just been transported to a fusion of Old World and Modern Day Cuba.
The restaurant boasts two spacious dining rooms, both of which have a casual, yet elegant flare with their carefully crafted decor. The Havana room combines colorful Cuban artwork, tropical plants, and a fantastic, panoramic view of the New York City skyline. It’s also ideal for hosting large parties with its communal table and stunning chandelier hanging above the huge round bar. In the Vista Room, you can find comfortable couches, pictures of old time Cuban celebrities adorning the walls, and floor to ceiling windows to capture that amazing view. However, things may not look exactly the same when you come back for a second visit.
“We like to change the set-up, switch things up to make it more interesting,” says Machado, “especially for our returning guests so that they always get a different experience when they dine with us.”
Sometimes, Son Cubano even offers an extra special treat for their patrons. In June of this year, the restaurant commissioned a Cuban artist to do a live painting in front of their dinner guests for a real authentic, Old World Cuban experience.
Once you are seated at your table, try to avert your eyes from the spectacular view and order one of Son Cubano’s famous mojitos, sangrias, or one of their many unique specialty drinks to toast your night out on the town. If you really want to savor (and remember) your meal, be sure to sip slowly because the drinks are delicious but they can really sneak up on you.
Each course offers a range of unique options that will intrigue even the pickiest of eaters. For an appetizer, try the grouper ceviche that is marinated in lime juice, cilantro, and red onion, or go for the zesty guacamole made with grilled pineapple, mango, red onion, and jalapeño, served with plantain chips. There’s also the black bean soup with sautéed shrimp and scallops, the Cuban Thai mango salad, and a fantastic raw bar complemented by a mango cocktail sauce and passion fruit minuet. But, what Son Cubano is best known for are the paella and steak entrees, particularly the Ropa Vieja, which is braised, shredded flank steak simmered in a Cuban criollo sauce served with white rice and sweet plantain. If steak is not your thing, there are plenty of other dishes, such as the seafood paella, crispy skin salmon, or cumin scented ahi tuna that can get your taste buds dancing the salsa.
Of course, your meal wouldn’t be complete without indulging in a sweet dessert accompanied by a glass of one of their beautiful port wines. You may want to dive into the churros — crispy fried dough sticks served with hot chocolate and dulce de leche dipping; or maybe go for the buttermilk chocolate cake, an assortment of gelatos and sorbets; or perhaps try the trio de flan, where you get a generous sample of creamy vanilla, tangy pineapple, and coconut flan. Whichever you choose, there’s no question that it will be like eating a little slice of heaven.
This incredibly eclectic Cuban menu was created by Eleazar Fuerte, a Cuban-American chef who was the “original chef” of Son Cubano when it opened its doors in 2010. After taking an opportunity to explore South East Asia, working for the prestigious Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford for three years, Chef Fuerte is back at Son Cubano with a new culinary approach that incorporates the amazing flavors from his travels. The menu, full of multicultural influences mixed with traditional Cuban flavors, is one of the main reasons that Son Cubano continues to grow in popularity.
Son Cubano is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday where the party goes until 1:00 a.m. on weekdays and 2:00 a.m. on weekends. Dance your meal away on Thursday nights with a live DJ, and a Latin American band on Fridays and Saturdays. On Sundays, they serve brunch and dinner, which is a great day to take the family to enjoy the experience as well. Reservations are definitely recommended at least a week in advance, especially for dinner on the weekends when the restaurant is at its busiest. You can even choose to eat al fresco on the patio when it opens up during the spring and summer months.
Come to Son Cubano to soak in the amazing tastes, sounds, sights, and traditions of Cuba right here in the Garden State with a one-of-a-kind view of New York City’s skyline. There’s nothing else like it, and you’re guaranteed to love it.
40-4 Riverwalk Place
West New York, NJ 07093