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 flare into Latin-fusion recipes to create vivid, metropolitan cuisine. Flavorsmiths prime palates with a selection of appetizers that includes the pulpo a la brasa al estilo Mediterraneo, where Mediterranean-style octopus grills atop a bed of charcoal before curling up beside a pool of black-olive tapenade. Brimming with aquatic and earthly morsels, the paella Valenciana tosses shrimp, scallops, chicken, and chorizo into an ocean of saffron Arborio rice and sherry for diners to spear with miniature tridents. A grouper fillet struts out to tables alongside fresh crabmeat, spinach risotto, and chardonnay-butter sauce to create the mero relleno de cangrejo. The chuleton de puerco accessorizes its frenched pork chop with a Francophile trio of mushroom ragu, gorgonzola-truffle butter, and a spinach mustache.
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.
Behind Brownstone Lounge's doors, exposed brick, neon lights, and thumping beats underscore patrons' bubbly conversations over plates of tapas-style fare and ice-cold drinks served straight from a chilled drink dome. On comfy couches scattered throughout the restaurant, diners nosh on small plates ranging in style from Latin or French fusion such as mango fish tacos with chipotle sauce and sautéed mussels in white whine sauce, to comforting pub grub such as buffalo chicken wings and mac 'n' cheese wedges. Beer, wine, sangria, and cocktails complement meals, and all of the lounge's vodka flows straight from a drink dome chilled to negative 32 degrees, the precise temperature of a broken heart. The space is also decked out with jukeboxes, allowing guests to express musical preferences without climbing onto the bar and belting out their favorite showtunes.
In 2004—on a mission to bolster its community’s wellspring of art, creativity, and education—the nonprofit Bergen Performing Arts Center took over the former John Harms Center, an art deco–style movie and vaudeville palace built in 1926. Today, in the same antique theater where Shakespeare screened his first car-chase movie, the Bergen Performing Arts Center hosts 150 yearly events that bring dance, music, and theatrical productions to an estimated 250,000 annual audience members. Networks like HBO, PBS, and MTV all have filmed international broadcasts on Bergen Performing Arts Center’s stage, which has seen the likes of Tony Bennett, Woody Allen, and the Dixie Chicks.
Sweetwater's serves up an eclectic array of eats, quaffs, and entertainment, continuing the traditions of the Manhattan Sweetwaters in the ’70s and ’80s. Start a nautical-themed meal with Sweetwater's signature bowl of tortilla soup ($5.95) and a sea-sourced entree such as the fried shrimp ($11.95, with fries), and then cast a land-anchor with a hefty bacon burger (with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pickles, and a side of fries, $8.95). Patrons can sample the full spread of bathypelagic bites with a seafood tray—fried fish, calamari, shrimps, and seafood quesadillas served with fries ($29.95).