After attending a movie screening in Midtown West, Gabriel and I found ourselves turning to GrouponNow to find a local deal for dinner. There weren’t a ton of options coming up, so when we found a $20 for $40 to Guantanamera (a Cuban restaurant with pretty good ratings) we headed over. We skimmed over the menu outside, peaked inside at the dimly lit bar and the man hand-rolling cigars in the window, and decided we were intrigued enough to check it out.
The hostess asked if we had reservations, which we didn’t. She told us that it would be about a 20 minute wait so we decided to sit at the bar to have a drink. Just three minutes later we were told that a table opened up downstairs for us. Great! As we headed down into the cozy, candlelit cellar, I was relieved to hear that the loud music and competing voices trying to hear each other over it from upstairs was left behind.
Water and menus were brought over immediately and our drink orders were taken. With red and white sangria as options, I decided to try the white which I’d never ordered before. The waiter described it as lighter and sweeter than the red and told me that If I didn’t like it, I could switch. I DID like it! It wasn’t full of fruit chunks like I usually see it, but it was fruity and refreshing without being too strong.
For our meal, we decided on an order of Paella, a side of tostones with garlic sauce, a side order of braised spinach and the empanadas appetizer. The Paella was wonderful and had tons of great stuff in it- sausage, chicken, lobster tail (one tiny piece), shrimp, calamari, peas, clams, mussels, oh my! It was plenty for the two of us to share, and with the app and the 2 sides made for a really nice meal. The tostones, though not as awesome as they are at Pio Pio (https://bigforkinmouth.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/pio-pio-1746-1st-ave-new-york-ny/) were very tasty and crispy and came with a wonderfully garlic-y dipping sauce. The spinach was also deliciously full of garlic and the perfect green accompaniment to a very starch-heavy meal. The empanadas were ok- not really noteworthy and we both preferred the chicken one to the beef.
For dessert we shared the Tres Leches cake and it did not disappoint. Moist and milky, just like it should be, it was clear why this is one of their most popular desserts.
Overall, I would definitely recommend Guantanamera if you want to try Cuban food in a fun setting. I would definitely urge you to make a reservation- when we left it was a total mob scene and jut trying to get out was a challenge. If like us, you don’t want to shout to hear each other, ask to be seated downstairs. Enjoy!