All About The Cuban: Latin Fusion Cuisine in Hoboken

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It is a regular evening at The Cuban. The red walls, stylishly-decorated by avant-garde artworks and lit by warm-colored glass ceiling lamps, emit a warm ambiance. Avenida Washington, a popular cocktail on the restaurant’s small but strong drink menu, sets the tone for the meal. Made with jalapeno-infused tequila, the fiery note is softened by the zesty sweetness of grapefruit juice. It is robust, vibrant, and well-balanced. In fact, at The Cuban Restaurant and Bar, the food is all about mix and balance — of hearty Cuban tradition and buzzy international flavors. Here’s more about The Cuban, a Washington Street Latin restaurant staple.

the cuban hoboken

{Photo credit: @thecuban_hoboken}

The Food

the cuban hoboken

{Photo credit: @thecuban_hoboken}

A good part of the menu consists of old school Latin American dishes. For appetizers, get the crispy empanaditas filled with creamy spinach and tangy manchego cheese. Split it open, let it cool down as the steam rises from the melting cheese, and dip it in a sweet quince marmalade.

the cuban hoboken

{Photo credit: @thecuban_hoboken}

The guacamole, to be scooped up with crispy plantain chips, is studded with delicate lumps of crab meat. Move on to the main dishes. An all-time favorite is the ropa vieja, a home-style Cuban meat stew. Shredded and braised flank steak fully absorb the robust flavors of the gravy, which is slow-cooked with onions, peppers, and tomatoes. The dish comes with creamy black bean, but of course one can order the yuca fries on the side.

the cuban hoboken

{Photo credit: @thecuban_hoboken}

Other menu items, on the other hand, fuse Asian and New American elements with Pan-Latin traditions. The ceviche is made of diced raw salmon marinated in citrus juice. As an enhancement to the traditional Peruvian version, it is tossed with extra juicy grilled pineapple, garnished with peppery Thai basil, and topped off with brittle plantain chips. 

Read More: Pampita Meat Shop: From Buenos Aires to Jersey City

the cuban hoboken

{Photo credit: @thecuban_hoboken}

For the main dish, the grilled salmon is a popular special — lightly coated with a sweet-tart tomatillo glaze, the warm flavor is amplified with a hearty sweet potato and ginger puree, which contrasts with a zesty green apple salad.

the cuban hoboken

{Photo credit: @thecuban_hoboken}

Even brunch items, despite seemingly generic names, are jazzed up with a Latin spin. The egg benedict is served on a bed of ropa vieja. Poke the yolk and mix it with velvety stewed meat. Creamy and richly-flavored, it is the ultimate comfort food for a crisp winter morning. The french toast is another must-try.

The Art Of Fusion Dishes

Andres Lopez, manager at The Cuban, spoke of these “fusion dishes” as a natural response to the gradual shift in the local food scene.

Ramen stands and Aussie breakfast spots have popped up on Washington Street, inspiring young customers, many adventurous eaters keenly following the latest food trends, to explore new takes on old recipes. Meanwhile, the demand for authentic Latin American food, buoyed by a vibrant Hispanic community in the local area, has been strong as ever.

the cuban hoboken

{Photo credit: @thecuban_hoboken}

“There is always a group of loyal customers, especially [those] from Latin America, who ask for very traditional dishes,” he said. 

See More: La Brujeria: Jersey City’s Newest Mexican Restaurant

Andres said the restaurant, which has been running on a streamlined version of the pre-pandemic menu, is soon to add back more “fusion-style” items. It also relaunched a happy hour menu recently, consisting of cocktails, an interesting selection of Latin and Spanish beers, and a few all-time favorite finger food choices {including the empanadita}.

the cuban hoboken

{Photo credit: @thecuban_hoboken}

But a “quick bite” at The Cuban doesn’t have to be only on the savory side. The Tres Leches cake is simply a piece of heaven that melts on the first bite. Of course, there are the Nutella-filled churros, which, well, doesn’t need further explanation.

The restaurant, which has been running for 12 years and is still going strong, is forever experimenting and adjusting. For Andres, who lives in the area and loves it, it is like the city itself. He observed that there have been “a lot of new buildings and new businesses” in the past decade and that many more changes are underway. “Changes are for the better,” he said.

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Yiwei was born and raised in China. She has lived extensively in Beijing and Hong Kong, before finally settling down in New York. She moved to Hoboken after a few years in Westchester and immediately felt at home here. Two years ago, she left her job at an investment bank to travel the world and explore her interests, and has since then taken on a few freelancing gigs in career coaching, college admission consulting, and writing. When she is not wandering wildly in the streets of Europe, Asia, or Latin America, she can be found sipping an espresso in one of Hoboken's coffee shops or trying out restaurants in Hoboken and Jersey City area.