Today’s deal may be the most exciting thing to happen in the world of Latin cuisine since the discovery of the automatic taco. For $30, you’ll get $60 worth of non-traditional Mexican and Cuban cuisine at the East Village's Cantina Latina. Conceived, designed, and built by Tillman's owner, Lesly Bernard, this 100-seat Havana saloon is kind of like the funky Frankenberry to Tillman's cool Count Be-Bopula.
Much like a film that was inspired by true events, the Cantina Latina's Latin-inspired menu recasts a variety of traditional Cuban and Mexican dishes with more attractive ingredients, pipes in some spicy Latin music, and makes dining a hyperreal and unforgettable experience. Some of the best results of this culinary creative license include the Cantina Cubano (smoked ham, roasted pork, and swiss cheese with a puree of raisins and olives on a ciabatta roll, $9), chicken mole tacos ($12), and Brazilian-style cod in garlic, coconut, and cashew sauce ($16). Save room for savory sides, such as yucca with garlic citrus sauce ($4) and elote mercado (half ear of corn grilled and rubbed with lime, chili powder, and queso fresco, $4) and wash it all down with a Pisco Punch (Pisco, pineapple juice, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and sugar) or tres.
The Cantina's saloon atmosphere easily accommodates large groups, nearly always avoiding ragtime piano brawls between poker cheats, so bring enough amigos to polish off a table platter of ropa vieja (braised short ribs with chiles, vegetables, garlic, and caramelized onion, $15). Or better yet, make arrangements beforehand to chill in The Matador Den, which is equipped with a flat-screen TV and a Wii for bullfighting (Bald Bull fighting, at least). If you find yourself inflamed by the flamboyant matador murals and/or the Cantina's many specialty margaritas, sangrias, mojitos, and mezcales ($7–$12), resist the urge to charge at anyone wearing a flowing red cape, ornately decorated clothes, and way-too-tight pantaloons.
- I ate at the bar with some friends. We highly enjoyed the place and thought the food was really good!... Both friends are fussy foodies and had nothing but good things to say. – lovethechow, MenuPages
- I love the decor and atmosphere...it's really warm with lots of candles and these great hand painted murals... – Kitty P., Yelp
Buyer Be Where?
These days, the word Latin can refer to a lot of things: cultural background, food, music and more. Rarely does it still refer to the dead language of Latin, although many of its common phrases are still employed today in law and science, as well as everyday uses we take for granted, such as the following:
Caveat emptor, translation: You should’ve noticed that the box was hissing before you opened it.
Habeus corpus, translation: As you can see, your majesty, Prisoner #4669 is healthy and has not in any way spent the last eight months catching salamanders for food in our hyperdungeon.
Terra incognita, translation: Tara Reid shopping in big sunglasses.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, translation: The focus groups indicated that more people would’ve seen a Watchmen movie with a rapping cheetah in it.
Deus ex machina, translation: Two divorced robots.
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