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 fare you can find without booking a direct flight to Havana. Read on for a list of must-try Cuban restaurants in Hoboken + Jersey City.
Chango Kitchen | 301 Willow Avenue, Hoboken
Changó Kitchen, a Cuban-Latin restaurant, opened in the same space Zafra used to be. It kept the same beloved-and-delicious Zafra menu plus added some new dishes, including daily specials. Patrons can order items such as mofongo (a classic Puerto Rican dish), Cuban sandwiches, vegetarian options, and even a kids menu. Changó Kitchen is also serving up traditional Latin desserts — tres leches, flan, and more are available for your sweet-tooth fix. The brunch menu boasts huevos rancheros, tamaleros, enchiladas verdes, churrasquero, and more.
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. 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.
La Casa | 54 Newark Street, Hoboken
With exposed brick and dim lighting, the dining area is intimate, homey, and dare we say romantic, with a few tables and a countertop for seated guests. La Casa serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and brunch. Now, onto the food, which is made to order. Classic apps like relleno de papa, empanadas, and tostones are available as well as other staples like steak churrasco, mofongo, ropa vieja, and bistec sandwiches.
La Isla | 104 Washington Street, Hoboken
The OG downtown location is not fancy, or gourmet, but it’s not trying to be and yet is still extremely charming. The uptown location is larger, more modern, and offers great cocktails – great for large parties. La Isla offers the neighborhood fresh, authentic home-cooked-style Cuban food. This Hoboken staple was even featured on the Food Network – and for good reason. La Isla is an absolute must-try. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
Pio Pio Restaurant | 449 Central Avenue, 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.
Rumba’s Cafe | 513 Central Avenue, 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.
The Cuban | 333 Washington Street, Hoboken
Drink specials, live music, great ambiance, and great food – The Cuban has it all. An extensive menu that caters to everyone (including the anti-breakfast afternoon crowd). 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.