Friday, December 14, 2012


One of the best ways to seek a restaurant near an event that you're attending is to simply place, "restaurant near (the address)" and look at their menu.  LaGuardia Place, near NYU and Washington Square Park found Favela Cubana, "Traditional Cuban and Brazilian Food".  A Happy Hour bill of fare sounded most interesting as each of five appetizers and drinks had a cost of $5.  Can two people share all five, each have a drink and have your taste buds as well as your tummy satisfied for $35?

Two bongo drums line the entrance and on a much warmer evening, it would have been pleasant to sit outside.  Favela connotes a shanty town in Brazil.  The inside was a tone of wood, a few murals, showcase of Cuban and Brazilian rum and a bar with bongo drums for bar stools (they are all playable).

Wanting to experience more than just the happy hour delights, I ordered one of them, Lula Fritas that consisted of fried squid and shrimp with pickled onions and chili aioli sauce. Served with house made plantain chips.  I was most pleased to find it cooked perfectly, let alone tasting so well being that it isn't an Italian restaurant.  I even chuckled that they used the word "calamari" instead of "squid".  Turned out that the owner, Marco Britti, spent most of his life in Italy before moving to Brazil.

With the assistance of Jelena, a was able to get a description of the other Happy Hour dishes: Chorizo Croquettes (3), Pulled Pork sliders (2), Empanadas (3) and a portion of Tostones (twice fried plantains) with Favela Sauce.

Rather than check out the pork sliders, my test for Cuban is the Cuban Sandwich, which consists of the roasted pulled pork, ham, swiss cheese, fried pickles and honey dijon mustard done panini style on ciabatta.  It was served with a side of mixed greens. Test passed.

I continued eating. Pao de Queijo is a traditional cheese bread of Brazil. The small ball of dough, made with corn is wrapped around Asiago cheese.  Corvina Ceviche uses snapper as "corvina" is basically a white fish.  It is combined with cucumber, avocado, red onions, tomato, jalapeno, cilantro and fresh lime juice.

"Ensalada De Camarones" sounded good and tasted even better.  Seasoned grilled shrimp is the star as it is placed over a salad of baby arugula, toasted almonds, guacamole with a jalapeno dressing.

Beef was a must to sample typical Brazilian cuisine.  There were three different cuts of meat on the bill of fare.  Marco suggested the Ropa Vieja as this one uses skirt steak, one that is very tender and can be "pulled".  The meat is then mixed with bell peppers and Spanish onions.  Let's combine the Cuban cuisine by serving it with a side of Cuban black beans and white rice.

I guess I could have had coconut flan or tres leches, but I was intrigued with the Passion Fruit Panna Cotta (there was also a dessert choice of gelato). The panna cotta was served with blackberries and a cashew nut brittle.

As for a drink, I ordered a Cava Sangria that added white grape juice, grand marnier, mint and strawberries. Quite refreshing.

As for my experience of the food, I found each of the items to have much flavor, and tantalized my taste buds as well as my tummy.  Favela Cubana is located at 543 LaGuardia Place. 

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