For lunch during the week, it is always a luxury to find a nice, sit down restaurant that offers reasonably priced fare in Midtown. Which is why I was so pleased to discover Cabana Midtown so many months ago. This restaurant boasts cuisine which it calls “Nuevo Latina”, which seems to be mostly Cuban food. Since my discovery of this place, I have been converting friends and colleagues into frequent diners. My most recent visit was no exception.
I brought my new coworker, Brittany, to sample one of my favorite lunchtime locations that I go to when I grow tired of grabbing a salad from the deli downstairs and eating it at my desk (blah). The restaurant had closed a few months ago for renovations, but has since reopened with a very “Miami chic” atmosphere. Bright red and yellow colors surrounding us with Latin music playing in the background, the décor is vibrant and lively. The food is as much a feast for the stomach as a feast for the eyes.
One of my favorite things to order here are the salads from their lunch menu (all lunch menu items cost between $10 and $14, and come with either soup or salad, depending on what you order). Since I’m trying to be all “figure friendly”, I tend to believe that salads are generally the way to go. The soup we had was a plantain vegetable soup, which was unusual, but nothing to write home about. It was sort of neither here nor there – we ate it because we were hungry and it was in front of us.
For my main attraction, I ordered the Tangerine salad (pictured) which features a bed of field greens topped with grilled salmon and a mango salsa (mango, cantaloupe, pineapple, red peppers) in a delicious dressing, which I believe is comprised of some kind of fruit and honey, which gives it its fresh, sweet taste. And I have to comment on the presentation – you can find nearly every color of the rainbow in this salad, and I almost had difficulty taking the time to photograph it before digging right in.
Brittany ordered the Tropicana salad (pictured), also of field greens and with the same dressing, but topped with grilled chicken, orange slices, cantaloupe, mango and pineapple. To me, these salads are a perfectly refreshing and satisfying lunch or dinner, and I think she was in agreement with me on that sentiment.
All of the other dishes I have tried here are good, some better than others. Last time, when I went with my friend Carrie, I ordered the Coco Cabana Pollo from their regular menu, which is chicken breast, broccoli, carrots, spinach and Caribbean root vegetables (yuca, calabaza, and yautia) simmered in coconut milk, flavored with curry and habanero peppers. The dish was really different from anything I have tried before, and I rather enjoyed it. The sauce is light, made of a yellow curry, and was not overly creamy which I appreciated. Carrie ordered the Picadillo, which is a traditional Cuban dish of ground beef and potatoes sautéed with garlic, plum tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, olives and capers, served with rice and black beans. She liked it, but we both deemed it a bit under seasoned.
The empanadas here are also very good, but I’ve only tried them from other people’s orders because I have yet to bring myself to order a plate of this fried doughy goodness. And one thing I can rave about are the mojitos (after work only, folks!) I had the watermelon mojito and Carrie ordered the lemon-lime. Both were delicious and hit the spot nicely. Their Arroz con Pollo (chicken and rice) is another winner, and being my fiancé’s favorite dish, he loves it. And though I didn’t get to try it, our neighbors had a scrumptious looking basket of fried plantains in front of them, which I may need to test the next time I go. Overall, I would definitely recommend this place, especially for lunchtime.
Cabana, 1022 Third Avenue, NYC, 10021