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  • Cuban Restaurants in Hoboken and Jersey City: 8 Must-Visit Spots

    You may be stuck in the concrete jungle, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat like a world traveler. We’ve collected a list of some of the best Cuban and South American-inspired fare you can find without booking a direct flight to Havana. Even though you can do that now, which is awesome, you can’t always get the time away. But trust us, your taste buds {and your credit card} will thank you for this list of the 8 Cuban-inspired spots in Hoboken + Jersey City that are definite must-visit spots.

    Best Mini-Meal: Empanadas Cafe {123 Washington Street}  

    Empanada-cafe-hoboken-new-jersey

    While they have a wide variety of delicious stuffed pastries at this downtown Argentinian spot, it was the Cuban empanada that caught our eye here. And did we mention each specialty empanada is only $3.50? So there’s no buyer’s guilt squeezing a pastry snack in between lunch and dinner. {Plus let’s be honest, your stomach will thank you too}. 

    Read More: All About Empanadas Cafe 

    Best Bang for your Buck: Rumba’s Cafe {513 Central Ave, Jersey City}  

    There’s no other way to put it, this place is cheap, as in nothing on the menu is over $6 and there is an actual appetizer that comes in at 75 cents cheap — but you’ll quickly find the quality of the food is anything but. The portions are huge and so satisfying, and their giant breakfast portions and 70 cent coffee are a life-saver after a long night out. Plus, the atmosphere is homey, which makes us want to return every time.

    Best Brunch: The Cuban {333 Washington Street}  

    Drink specials? Check. Live music? Check. An extensive menu that caters to everyone {including the anti-breakfast after noon crowd}. Check. Reasonably priced entrees and well-made drinks round out our list of reasons The Cuban’s brunch is an experience you’ve got to try on your next free weekend. The music keeps it lively, but not wild, and brunch specials run from 11-3PM so there’s no need to set an alarm.

    Best BYOB: La Isla Downtown {104 Washington Street}  

    It’s not fancy, and it’s not gourmet, but it’s not trying to be. La Isla is a little cramped, a little loud, and offers the neighborhood fresh, authentic home-cooked style Cuban food. Their BYOB policy keeps the cost of the meal down, but if you’re looking for cocktails, try their uptown location at 12th between Maxwell and Hudson instead.

    Best Outdoor Seating: Hard Grove {286 1st Street, Jersey City}

    You can call this spot the comeback kid. It first opened in the 1980s, but closed in its original spot a few years ago. Now it’s back in a new locale with a low-key cafe vibe, outdoor patio and lively music to keep the vibe going all evening long. Entrees start at $12 for the Cuban sandwich and run up to $26 for the skirt steak. If you’re with a group, we’ve got to recommend the Hemingway Sampler to start. An homage to the writer who called Havana his late-in-life home, this appetizer sampler will give you a true tasting of all this place has to offer. And did we mention the atmosphere? The artwork is an ode to Old Havana, and is anyone honestly not a sucker for palm tree decor? What better way to transfer you out of the hustle and bustle of JC and into another world.

    Best Latin American Variety: Zafra Kitchen {301 Willow Ave}  

    A little bit off the beaten {Washington} path, Zafra is still super convenient to get to. Their BYOB policy is clutch, but our favorite thing about Zafra Kitchen is the variety in its menu. Their “Little Latin Dishes” appetizer section is extensive to say the least {we’re talking like nearly 20 items to choose from extensive} and it’s all delicious. From Cuban-style meatballs {Albondiguitas De Carne} to Liapingachos Con Salsa De Mani Y Aji, or Ecuadorina potato and cheese patties {insert heart eye emoji here}, we recommend ordering a bunch for the table and taking your taste buds on a tour through Latin America.

    Best Spot to Celebrate: Coco Havana {32 Newark Street}  

    Stop in to Coco Havana on a Saturday night, and you’ll probably find half the tables celebrating something — and there’s a reason for that. The spot was practically made for it celebrations. Coco Havana can accommodate large groups — somewhat of a rarity in the Mile Square {just be sure to make a reservation} — and they don’t just tolerate big tables, they relish them. The waiters even bring out a drum and sing to the birthday guy or girl, which adds a little something special to the night. Oh, and did we mention the cocktails are killer? When it’s your turn to buy a round, don’t forget to mention Hoboken Girl for half-priced mojitos — shhh it’ll be our little secret!

    Best Take-out/ Delivery: Pio Pio Restaurant {449 Central Ave, Jersey City}

    You can throw this entry into the “portions are ridiculously generous for the price” bucket alongside Rumba’s, but what we love most about this place is a) they deliver, and b) they deliver fast and the food is still warm and fresh when it reaches your doorstep.

     

     

    Where’s your favorite spot for Cuban and Latin dishes in Hoboken + JC? Share your yummy thoughts in the comments below!


    Written by:

    A Jersey girl born and raised, Kelly moved from Hoboken to Weehawken a year and a half ago and loves exploring all of the history and hidden spots in her new city while still making frequent trips to her favorite spots in the Mile Square (because while she signed up for a new zip code, she definitely didn’t sign up for a life without Black Bear buffalo bites, sunsets at Pier 13 or Sunday football on Washington!). After graduating from the University of Maryland in 2011 with a degree in journalism, she spent five years as a style editor and now freelances on everything from fashion to finance. When she’s not working on her next story, you can usually find Kelly swimming at the Stevens pool, checking out new happy hour spots (bonus points always given for a spot with a view) or cheering on her Maryland Terrapins (Go Terps!).


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