Since the 1980s, Hudson County has become home to large populations of the Cuban community. Many migrated from the island looking to attain the “American Dream” and brought their unique and delicious recipes. Aptly named “Havana on the Hudson,” Union City + West New York are known to be a hub for Cuban cuisine. If you’ve tried Cuban food before, you’ll know there’s nothing quite like it! If you haven’t, well, you’ve been missing out. Luckily, we did the (quite enjoyable) legwork and rounded up many of the authentic Cuban restaurants in Union City + West New York for your tasting pleasure. Continue reading for a guide (which we’ll continue to update) of Cuban restaurants in Union City + West New York.
El Artesano | 4101 Bergenline Avenue
First on the list, and appropriately so, is this Union City favorite: El Artesano. If you’re looking for authentic Cuban food, look no further than El Artesano. White rice, black beans, and fried plantains are all necessary sides to any Cuban dish, and can truly make or break the meal. Luckily, El Artesano prepares them all amazingly. The camarones al ajillo (shrimp in garlic sauce) is a must-try. If you’re looking for a sweet treat on the go, it offers eight churros for $1 at the takeout window.
HG Tip: Try the dulce de leche creme-filled mini churros and a cortadito for a delicious pick-me-up.
El Unico de Elena | 4211 Park Avenue
This is a great local spot to enjoy traditional Cuban food with large portions, especially if you’re on a budget. El Unico de Elena was recently renamed to honor the owner’s late wife. It was originally called “El Unico Restaurante y Cafetería” and has been around for over 40 years, most likely because of the unbeatable prices like $4 for a Cuban sandwich and $1.50 for a small milkshake. The spot also offers daily specials, seven days a week starting at $3.50. The Juanito Special (named after the founder) includes grilled chicken breast, fried pork chunks, a fried egg, Spanish chorizo, maduros, rice, and beans for $8.
La Churreria No.2 | 3300 Bergenline Avenue
This popular Union City spot is unlike many on the list, and for a good reason. The primary focus is churros, the delectable, sugary dessert that Cubans adopted from Spain. This family-owned business has served the Latin-American community for over 20 years. The owners proudly display a picture of Celia Cruz (Cuban icon warmly known as “the Queen of Salsa”) posing with the founder of La Churreria, Roberto Morreiro. When you come to La Churreria, not only will you get genuine Cuban cuisine at a great price, but you will also experience what Cuban culture is all about: family (and churros).
West New York
Dos Amigos | 5300 Bergenline Avenue
A West New York favorite, this Cuban sandwich shop is the ideal place for a quick bite. Dos Amigos is said to have the best sandwiches in Hudson County. The milkshakes are a refreshing treat with flavors like trigo (wheat) and mamey, a traditional Cuban fruit.
El Vesubio | 442 62nd Street
Named after Mount Vesuvius, the volcano in Italy that left the ancient city of Pompeii in ruins after it erupted, this cozy Cuban spot is a local must-try. El Vesubio offers traditional dishes, packed with flavor, at very affordable prices, like its pernil asado (marinated pork) for $7 and ajiaco (chicken soup) for $3.
Havana on the Hudson | 5700 Hudson Avenue
A nod to Northern Hudson County’s nickname, this bakery and cafe in the heart of West New York embodies all the elements of classic Cuban culture. With an accent wall decorated with old-school newspaper ads and pictures of Havana, patrons are instantly transported to the enchanting island. The decadent pastelito de guayaba y queso (guava and cheese pastry) pairs perfectly with the warm espresso.
Isla Bonita | 6023 Park Avenue
With a delightful and unconventional infusion of Caribbean dishes, Isla Bonita is the place to try if you’d like to experience a different take on traditional Cuban food. The current owners are from the Dominican Republic, and when they purchased the Puerto Rican/Cuban-themed restaurant, they saw an opportunity to merge and showcase all three cultures in one.
HG Tip: The mofongo de platano, a classic Puerto Rican dish made of green plantains that are fried and crushed in a mortar with garlic, oil, and crunchy pork rind, is so good!
Las Palmas | 6153 Bergenline Avenue
A staple of West New York for decades, Las Palmas offers your typical Cuban dishes + drinks like churrasco (skirt steak) and sangria. The restaurant gives its customers a variety of dining options, whether they choose to eat at the counter, or enjoy table service. Pre-pandemic, the 2nd floor was open to customers for dining and dancing to a live band. The restaurant owners also own the supermarket next door, which is convenient if you feel inspired to recreate some of the dishes at home.
Pio Pio | 6300 Hudson Avenue
A casual, no-frills restaurant that delivers savory Cuban food for the right price. The Cuban sandwich is under $9 and cafe con leche is $1.75. With multiple locations in Union City + West New York, Pio Pio’s home-cooked dishes can be enjoyed without having to travel far.
Rumba Cubana | 6909 JFK Boulevard East, Guttenberg
We had to add Rumba Cubana to this list since it sits on the border between West New York + Guttenberg, and is, without a doubt, deserving of a shout out. A beloved spot among locals, this Cuban restaurant + lounge provides traditional Cuban dishes and drinks (the Mojitos are a must-try), along with a view of the Hudson River and Upper West Side. The staff is always friendly and attentive, which is a plus.
HG Tip: Try the tres leches for dessert and Papa Hemingway Daiquiri cocktail.
Son Cubano | 40-4 Riverwalk Place
Deviating from authenticity and striving for inventiveness, Son Cubano brings a modern twist to traditional Cuban dishes. The upscale restaurant has live music and views of the Manhattan skyline that will captivate you.