Every weekend, the soulful notes of blues bands fill the air of the casual, Zagat-rated eatery with lively and exciting ballads. National acts such as Popa Chubby, CJ Chenier, and Jeffrey Gaines complement the sounds of tribute bands as well as Monday open mic participants. Having first opened in 1991 in Westchester with a Ridgefield location opened in 2013, experienced chefs in the kitchen orchestrate dishes of spicy jambalaya, boiled crawfish, and exotic alligator sausage that are every bit as expressive and flavorful as the tunes they complement. Dishes arrive with steam still curling into the air, awaiting diner's selection from a menu of 100 gourmet hot sauces that customize dishes with fiery flavors of habanero peppers, smoked chipotles, peach and vidalia onion, and dragon tears. Bayou’s chefs also whip up their creole food for special events with their catering services.
During Puerto Rico's long history, Spanish, Tainos, and African cultures have contributed to the country's culinary tradition, leaving behind cuisine defined by exotic spices and simple cooking styles such as braising and grilling. After visiting the island and sampling many dishes themselves, Siete Ocho Siete’s owners wanted to honor the tastes of the island’s globe-hopping flavors. At their restaurant, chefs designed menus that highlight Puerto Rico’s signature ingredients: the alcapurria’s taro root and plantains arrive stuffed with seasoned ground beef, and the chillo entero al volante presents a whole red snapper filled with fragrant coconut rice. Meals arrive in an interior shot through with festive decor: the walls are brightly painted, umbrellas peek out of frosty cocktails, and tables dress up in freshly pressed white cloths. On some nights, the lilt of live musicians regales diners with mid-meal music, and a wave room with bay views supplies a romantic setting for dates or mermaids catching a meal between shifts.
Whether it's the family history, the spices, or the fresh ingredients that give Don Coqui's food its flavor, the results have the potential to dazzle the taste buds. Classic Puerto Rican dishes and American staples sit side-by-side on the expansive menu—though it's nothing compared to the wine list—with braised oxtail and plantain-crusted red snapper sailing to tables as swiftly as the rib and chicken combo and the porterhouse for two. Abuelita's tres leches cake and coconut flan with a deep caramel glaze add a hint of indulgence at the tail end of evenings, and wines from far-flung locales can be savored by the glass, bottle, or incredibly tiny spoon.
The Rodriguez culinary dynasty was born in the Bronx, where Jimmy Rodriguez, Sr. set up shop beneath a bridge and sold fresh seafood to passersby. Jimmy Rodriguez, Jr. took his father's love of food and doubled down, opening beloved restaurants across the city. Both his recipes and his passion inspired his children, who've turned that passion into the Don Coqui restaurants. Each aims to be a place where food, wine, and salsa dancing bring people together—something of a family tradition. It's like bowling on Christmas Eve, only better and with more paella. Their flavors have also made them a "Worth It" dining destination by the The New York Times.
Helmed by veteran executive chef Pedro Vargas, Riverdale Garden Restaurant & Lounge's cooks serve up a complex seasonal menu that deftly blends Latin American, Caribbean, and Mediterranean elements. Educated staffers help diners feel at ease, recommending the perfect pairings for food, wine, or beatbox tapes, and promptly deliver dishes to tables cloaked in crisp white tablecloths.
Riverdale Garden is located just steps from the 1 train at Van Cortlandt Park, enabling diners to stable their horse-drawn chariots for a night. As patrons stroll into the warm, brick-walled dining room, a chandelier poised above the bar drips crystals from swooping gilded arms, welcoming them to drink in the elegant, laid-back atmosphere.
Belle Havana’s menu mixes and matches classic Cuban and French flavors served alongside the Royale Mojito($12), which comes muddled with fresh mint and garnished with bona-fide sugar cane and a splash of champagne. Chef Alexandre Cheblal’s knives have chopped and diced all over the United States, France, Japan, and Switzerland and infuse each fusion feast with international flavorizers. Devour pork and pickles inside cubano sandwiches ($7.95) or chomp tuna in a nicoise salad ($7.95). Start dinner with small plates of escargot served in cilantro-jalapeno butter ($8.95) to coat stomachs for the successful consumption of half a cornish game hen ($18.95) or red snapper wrapped in a banana leaf ($22.95).
When wine distributor Jennifer Deutsch envisioned Crush Wine Bar, she wanted a place that “feels like you’re in someone’s living room,” as she told the Journal News. Indeed, there’s an intimate feel to the place: you can sit at a comfortable couch or stand by a gas fireplace as you sip any of more than 50 wines by the glass and bottle. The kitchen staff creates small, inventive bites designed to complement each varietal of wine. Of these plates, you can dine on their roasted-mushroom and spinach-artichoke dip, share platters of cured meats, or replace your spare tire with a wheel of creamy baked danish brie.
Dominican native Sara Taveras, her husband, restaurateur Luis Taveras, and Caña y Café's new executive chef, Roberto Ferrer, inject contemporary technique as well as European, Asian, and Caribbean flair into Latin-fusion recipes to create vivid metropolitan cuisine. Flavorsmiths prime palates with a selection of seafood appetizers or classic Latin aperitivos such as empanadas or stuffed plantains. Snatching up the cross-cultural baton, entrees such as the rack of lamb whisper hints of continental and Caribbean flourishes, including the side of ratatouille and paprika blackened tomatoes. Other main courses arrive drizzled or otherwise accompanied by decadent garnishes such as truffle oil or sweet-plantain croutons. A selection of salads satisfies healthy cravings, with inspired combinations such as jicama, avocado, and cotija cheese, or peanut dressings with crispy chicken. Illuminating its lime-green wall and exposed brick with warm, intimate lighting, Caña y Café's dining room invites toasts with glassfuls of sangria or house wine from a list that includes such traditional Spanish grape varietals as tempranillo, verdejo, and California raisin.