As the bistro's earthy yellow brick walls and ocean-hued drapery draw diners in, the surprising blend of old San Juan dishes and urban culinary artistry evokes the spirit of Puerto Rico. Amid modern art and cherry-stained tables, the crowd lends a lulling backdrop to romantic dinners or shrimp-juggling competitions. Seafood options such as red snapper dressed in creole sauce abound, befitting the menu's tropical origins. A turf-side delight, the pork loin basks on a seaside of papaya-rum reduction in the lomo de cerdo. The kitchen's creativity is matched by the bar's reservoir of house cocktails, such as the Cocotini made with vodka, rum, and coconut shavings, or the Lemongrass's blend of apple juice, fresh lime, and vodka. A live salsa band plays every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, complementing the restaurant's imaginative atmosphere.
The cakes that emerge from City Life Bakery are more like tasty sculptures that are carefully constructed in shapes and colors of all kinds. Fondant-covered elephants and cartoon princesses headline kids' birthday parties, while elegant tiers topped in flowers serve as the perfect accompaniment to a wedding. More everyday options include colorful cupcakes, cups of coffee, and even gourmet deli sandwiches that help sweet teeth transition back into the realm of savory.
At Amada's Cafe, a sprawling menu of authentic Mexican and Cuban dishes keeps palates satisfied into the late hours. Tacos arrive inside corn or flour tortillas carrying flavorful bounties of carne asada, chorizo, chili rellenos, or pirate gold. Guests can pair seafood dishes such as breaded shrimp or whole red snapper grilled in butter and garlic with refreshing glasses of horchata. The slate of Cuban dishes ranges from classic cuban sandwiches topped with roasted pork, ham, and pickles to ropa vieja, tender pieces of shredded beef bathed in a Cuban-style tomato sauce.
Inari Sushi is the place to be. Japanese cuisine that is part of a healthy and light diet. Carefully prepared fresh fish and seafood are full of nutrients and the elegant way the food is served gives you a good reason to meet with a date, with friends, or for a business meeting.
Taste of Cuba's kitchen crafts a menu full of traditional Cuban eats concocted using fresh ingredients each day. Among the ranks of pressed sandwiches, the kingly cubano ($5.50) stands tall, bursting with sliced ham and roasted pork. The famous jibarito sandwich ($5.75) attracts paparazzi by canoodling with both grilled steak and onions, covering the affair with plantains and garlic mojo, then putting the whole thing on blast via Twitter. The roster of entrees includes the pechuga de pollo ($9.95), which finds a grilled chicken breast rubbed in savory spices. Fend off a food coma with a bracing cup of Cuban coffee in one of its myriad iterations ($1.50–$2).
Beneath a patriotically hued royal-blue awning and red-brick exterior, Borinquen’s cooks stir fry and sauté up traditional Puerto Rican dishes from fresh ingredients. Diners can wrap their hands around a special delicacy, jibaritos, the eatery’s signature dish that sandwiches a guest’s choice of meat or veggies between two fried plantains instead of bread for a starchy, juicy Caribbean twist. The tropical fruit reappears in the popular alcapurrias, golden fritters filled with a blend of ground beef, taro root, and green banana. Between bites, patrons sip a drink from the eclectic beverage menu, which boasts everything from passion-fruit and tamarind juice to café con leche.