With its ever-changing coordinates and conspicuous absence from the Beach Boys' "Kokomo," Cuba is one of the more difficult to locate Caribbean nations. Dig into this enigma with a fork, knife, and today's Groupon to Mambo Tea House in Rutherford. Choose between the following options:
• For $10, you get $25 worth of Cuban dinner cuisine on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.
• For $15, you get $30 worth of Cuban dinner cuisine on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
The menu at Mambo Tea House brims with traditional and contemporary Latin-inspired dishes served beside teas infused with far-flung Asian flavors. Fresh seafood includes the Chilean sea bass in balsamic reduction ($29.50) and the traditional Caribbean mofongo mashes pork crisps into green plantains and does a rumba with chicken breast ($15.50), roasted pork ($15.50), or jumbo tiger shrimp ($22). Palettes may be cleansed by an extensive collection of loose-leaf green, black, and oolong teas hailing from exotic lands such as India, Sri Lanka, Japan, and Hoboken. Diners are encouraged to bring their own bottle of wine from which cocktails crafters will transform the chosen vintage into a pitcher of sangria Mambo ($10).
Green and fuchsia walls covered in Cuban-cigar papers flank floors of bamboo wood as fans inscribed with hibiscus flowers churn from the ceiling above. Diners may soak up the atmosphere and shimmy on the dance floor to the sounds of live Cuban music Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Mambo Tea House
Mambo Tea House’s combination of cuisine and teas stems from the cultural backgrounds of its married co-owners, who were profiled in (201) magazine. Louis Nuñez, who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, supplied many of the restaurant's recipes and oversees Mambo's cuisine along with his head chef. Though the restaurant specializes in authentic Cuban food, its Latin-based eats—such as paella, skirt steak, and mofongo—borrow from traditional Argentinian, Puerto Rican, Spanish, and Dominican cooking.
Elsewhere in the eatery, CiCi Chan-Nuñez curates more than 40 loose-leaf teas imported from countries such as China, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan. The BYOB facility also supplies diners with mixes to convert their wines into sangria and mojitos.
Up to 60 guests can feast in the dining room, which includes bamboo-wood floors and Cuban-cigar wallpapers. Mambo Tea House hosts live Cuban music every other Thursday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., so visitors can dance off dinner or recite their new poem without worrying that anyone will be able to hear them.
98 Park Ave.
Rutherford, New Jersey 07070