A Taste of South America in Hoboken: Dinner at Cucharamama

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Some of the best restaurants in Hoboken are often found off-the-beaten path of busy Washington Street, and this one proves that statement right. Cucharamama, nestled on the corner of 3rd and Clinton Street {233 Clinton Street}, is culinary heaven and not as on the radar as some. This unique South American inspired menu has been wowing Hoboken residents and beyond for years — leaving tastebuds happy and bellies full. Read on to take a peek inside our recent visit and check out our must-order dishes that offer a taste of South America right here in Hoboken.

cucharamama hoboken

Cucharamama’s Backstory

Besides the delicious food, one of the best things about Cucharamama is its history. The restaurant is female-owned by its chef, Maricel Presilla, and her business partner Clara Chaumont. Maricel also owns Zafra {just down the block at 301 Willow Avenue} and one of the best-hidden gems in town, Ultramarinos {right next to Zafra at 260 3rd Street}.

cucharamama owners

Maricel’s journey to owning three local businesses wasn’t an easy one — in 1970 she fled Cuba with her family and since then has been an elementary school teacher in Miami, received a doctorate in medieval Spanish literature, and has written children’s books and cookbooks. Then in 2000, she opened Zafra in Hoboken, a quaint Cuban-Latin restaurant that has easily become a local favorite. Then in 2004, Cucharamama was born and has been nestled on the corner of 2nd and Clinton ever since.

The Atmosphere

For those wanting a cozy, romantic evening out, Cucharamama is the perfect spot. The vibe here is a dimly lit romantic feel, perfect for a first date or chilled out pals’ dinner date.

cucharamama hoboken inside

There are several tables and even seats at the bar/right near the brick-oven {which would make for a fun experience}. During the week, the restaurant isn’t super crowded, making it easy to get in and get eating {which, ahem, also means no need for a reservation for those who decide to go on a whim}.

See More: La Isla {Uptown}: An Intimate Cuban Dining Experience

cucharamama inside 2

^ The wood-burning oven and seats around it. There were a couple of people sitting here and seemed to be having a good time! This photo also gives a good idea of how dark it is inside. 

The Food

cucharamama wine menu

Let’s start with the bread and butter that comes out first to get those taste buds going. This isn’t a normal bread and butter situation — but this decadent treat will have you asking for more — ESPECIALLY the creamy butter.

cucharamama bread

The bites look more like a pita bread, which it is, but with spices. OK, enough about the bread and butter — just know it’s amazing.

cucharamama calamari 2

^^ Jalea de Calamares con Ají de Rocoto {fried calamari with tamarillo sauce}

cucharamama hoboken soup

^Sango de Choclo y Camarones con Ají de Choclo {creamy corn, plantain, and shrimp soup} served with cheese + onion empanaditas from the wood-burning oven

For diners who like to skip appetizers — don’t do that here. The fried calamari, empanadas, tamales, and corn soup are delicious app options that can satisfy any peckish cravings before tucking into an entrée.

cucharamama hoboken rice

^ Pata de Chancho al Estilo de Tacna con Arroz y Menestra de Frijoles Canarios {roasted pork} — if you’re a fan of roasted pork from Cuban restaurants, this is NEXT LEVEl. So good! 

cucharamama hoboken chileno

^ Pastel de Choclo Chileno — the perfect combination of savory + sweet

The entrées are where the menu really gets unique. A crowd favorite is the Pata de Chancho al Estilo de Tacna con Arroz y Menestra de Frijoles Canarios {roasted pork with white rice and beans} and the Pastel de Choclo Chileno {Chilean beef + chicken potpie with a corn crust}.

The portions are definitely generous so after all of that bread, the apps, and entrées, you will probably be too stuffed for dessert {but if not, go for it, of course}. Cucharamama has a small dessert menu that the waiter will verbally explain.

Not to forget about the drinks. Try one of the red Argentinian wines for something heartier to accompany your meal.  The entire wine list, however, is impressive and there are a bunch of South American ones to go perfectly with food menu items.

Plus, an added bonus of dining here is the staff. The service here is impeccable, to say the least. Utensils are constantly being replaced, the waiter is consistent in making sure everything is OK {without being overbearing}, and they really know their stuff.

Read More: The Coziest Restaurants in Hoboken and Jersey City

The Final Verdict

Cucharamama is worth it whether you live uptown, downtown, in Jersey City — wherever. The food is like no other, the staff is incredible, and the food + experience is always consistent. This is a great spot for a romantic evening, weeknight dinner, or dinner with a crowd — as long as your group enjoys South American fare, Cucharamama is for everyone.

Have you been to Cucharamama yet? Have a go-to menu item? Let us know in the comments! 

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Briana is a born-and-raised Hoboken Girl who embraces both the new and old aspects of the Mile Square. She’s a freelance writer, works in social media, and more importantly (but not really) — a cat lover and total foodie. When she’s not working, she can be found convincing herself to buy something at Sephora or Target, eating mussels with her fiancé at Leo’s, or planning her next Disney vacation.