Saturday, February 02, 2008

Amor Cubano: Love the Food, But Ear Plugs Help

Continuing on my adventures on the East Side, the lovely wife and I joined several of her work friends at Amor Cubano, on 3rd Avenue at 111th Street (2018 3rd Avenue, NY, NY 10029 tel 212 996-1220). If nothing else, Amor Cubano is the first restaurant I have ever eaten at with its own "My Space" page. Before writing anything further I would like to point out that my wife has way cooler work friends than I do: it was they who found Amor Cubano and convinced me to go up and East.

Amor Cubano sits in a rather bleak area of Third Avenue. The liquor store and local bodega were plexiglassed up. Most of the other stores were closed. The restaurant is across the street from a body shop. The good news is that the restaurant itself is pretty, well lit (on the outside), and cabs and "gypsy cabs" were available to get you home after you eat.

There is live music at Amor Cubano, playing Cuban classics old and new. The staff dances in the aisles, although there isn't enough room for you, too. Although incredibly cool and fun to watch, the music is, unfortunately, deafening. Even when the musicians are on break, the place is so loud it is difficult to hear the person next to you talk.

The food at Amor Cubano was excellent. I have always liked Cuban food, and Amor Cubano did an excellent job with appetizers. Special mention should be made of the empanadas, tostones rellenos and fried yuca. Tostones were quite tasty, although I must admit never having met a tostones I didn't like.

I had arroz con pollo, which I found has mas sabor compared to the usual fare from the restaurants that deliver around the Upper West Side. Vaca Frita was also good, although it is never a dish I particularly love. The ropa vieja was better than most I have had in New York City. The LW had pork, which she liked. I should have tried a Cuban sandwich, one of my absolute favorite foods, but I simply ran out of room.

All in all, I enjoyed my evening at Amor Cubano. It was sort of like going to Queens but being able to have a beer because you didn't have to drive home (did I mention that they have a full bar, strong, and very expensive, mojitos, beer and sangria?). The noise is a serious problem however: it was impossible to fully enjoy the meal and the company. If the restaurant can control the volume, I would gladly come back. And eat the sandwich.

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