*Rebecca’s: Cuban; Edgewater; 236 Old River Rd; 23/20/$47; 201-943-8808; http://new.rebeccasedgewater.com/; One of the best Cuban restaurants in the county; Addictive food; Incredible quality; BYO helps with the cost; They serve wine only as well; Fun, friendly staff; Secluded backyard for dates; Smallish- romantic feel. Every Cuban dish you’d expect is on the menu. Try the roast pork; Sort of a Cuban-Caribbean fusion. Charming space. Excellent website with photos.
*Casual Habana Café: Cuban; Hackensack; 125 Main Street; 24/17/$32; 201-880-9844; BYOB; Try the Pork Shank (baby Pernil), Oxtail empanadas; and wildly flavorful steaks; Prices are very inexpensive and the surroundings surprisingly hip and comfortable; Exposed brick walls; Seafood options include Snapper, various shrimp dishes, Tilapia and Cod. 3+ soups to pick from and gracious service. Smoked paprika Calamari; Appetizer tower – pick any 3 tapas; Huge menu. New Milford location. www.casualhabanacafe.com/;
Choripan Rodizio: Argentinean; Hackensack; 10 Sussex St; 24/19/$45; 201-880-7941; http://choripantoo.com/; You can have the meat – all you can eat for $35; Expertly prepared; You can also try a sampler platter for $40 of all the different meats served at once; Great for parties or birthdays; BYOB; Everything is large here – and served in mammoth portions. Food brought at once – not taken off skewers. Lots of a la carte options but no big salad bar.
Cucharamama: South American; Hoboken; 233 Clinton @ 3rd St; 24/21/$44; 201-420-1700; www.cucharamama.com; Great quality from celeb chef Maricel Presilla; Dishes are works of art; There is also gorgeous artwork on walls; Outstanding bar and sexy scene; Huge menu featuring ethnic dishes from all over South America; Beautiful ambience. Unique dining experience. Eye-opening presentation; A winner & must try. Beware of one thing – service notoriously slow. Cuisines of most South American countries represented.
*La Isla: Cuban; Hoboken; 104 Washington @ 2nd; 25/11/$32; 201-659-8197; https://laislarestaurant.com/; Voted Best Cuban by NJ Monthly; Extremely authentic; BYO; Sunday Brunch; Very small & non-descript décor; Freshest ingredients; Can eat inexpensively here for breakfast, lunch or for a pressed sandwich; Great experience. Due to quality & price – often line to get in. Casual and worthy take out option. Famous French Toast.
Costanera: Peruvian; Montclair; 511 Bloomfield Av @ Park; 23/20/$40; 973-337-8289; http://costaneranj.com/; Gourmet South American food at last; Wonderful menu that even features a raw bar; Mouthwatering dishes – ideal place for someone not used to experimenting; The Osso Bucco would be my pick; Pan roasted Cod in a spicy seafood sauce; Seafood stew; Hanger Steak; Grilled fish; Appetizers take the cake though. BYO; Closed Tuesday; Has perfect Raw bar- build your own; Get the Costanera Ceviche with Crab & shrimp.
Saveur Creole: Haitian; Montclair; 131 Grove St ; 23/20/$40 ; 973-744-3507; www.saveurcreolerestaurant.com/; Delightful atmosphere; Upscale Caribbean; Closed Monday; Offer cooking classes; BYO; Menu also features dishes from following cultures – Cajun, Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese Creole; Sample as much as possible – start with the Saveur Creole Sampler; Excellent soups; Goat stew; Red Snapper; Tilapia Roule; Conch Creole; Shrimp or Crab Etoufee; Lots to choose from in this large menu.
Brasilia Restaurant: Brazilian; Newark; 99 Monroe; 22/19/$38; 973-465-1227; www.brasiliagrill.net; All the meat you can eat – servers come around with endless selections; Wonderful rodizio; Huge salad bar as well; Lively atmosphere; One of the better restaurants in Newark. Ah, did I say all you can eat? Has a la carte options as well. Try their caipirinha. Palm trees & colorful décor – if slightly cheesy. $30 for the rodizio/ salad bar.
Brazeiro Churrascaria: Brazilian; North Bergen; 7420 Broadway; 23/23/$40; 201-662-1212; www.brazeirobbq.com/; The county needed a great Churrascaria and this place doesn’t disappoint; Waiters come by with an endless flow of delectable meats on skewers for you to sample; 4-7pm Happy Hour; Salad Bar has tons of side dishes and other foods to pick from; Beef, pork, chicken, ribs, steaks all available. Only $30 for the rodizio! Wines for $20/bottle – 20 different types to choose from.
Rumba Cubana: Cuban; North Bergan; 1807 45th St @ Tonnelle; 23/16/$25; 201-854-4000; As traditional as it gets; Dirt cheap prices and the real deal on food; Full bar; Huge, monstrous portions; Mojito is the signature drink; Island décor inside; Outdoor seating available; Lots of fun on weekends; Oxtail on Wednesday; Try a Cuban sampler platter; Best for lunch or weekday dining for newcomers. www.rumbacubanarestaurant.com/;
Sabor: New Latin; North Bergen; 8809 River Rd; 24/21/$41; 201-943-6366; www.saborlatinbistro.com; Large menu featuring selections from all over the Caribbean; They serve hot and cold tapas style dishes as well as full hot entrees; Pricy for the genre; Gorgeous setting- festive and polished. Ideal for a date and also solid for a drink. They serve Brunch as well. Seasonal outdoor seating; DJ & dancing after 11pm weekends; Full bar. Guac, Pork Shank, Skirt Steak. Dancing on weekends later in night. Try Tapas Thursdays. Newly renovated.
Sabor Peru: Peruvian; Rutherford; 8 Highland Cross @ Park; 23/15/$35; www.saborperunj.com; Locals rave about how authentic the cooking is; Hidden gem for sure; Closed Monday, Tuesday; Try one of these: numerous ceviche’s, seafood medley salad, one of a dozen home-made soups, or a Peruvian stir-fry which are made to order and delicious. Also have cheapo lunch specials; Noodle dishes. Brunch served. BYO; Improving reviews.
Mi Bandera: Cuban; Union City; 518 32nd St; 21/19/$30; 201-348-2828; Generous portions of flavorful fare; Located above a supermarket; 20 years in business; Very solid service; Amazing sangria; Famous for their churrascos; Nice port chops; Flavorful steaks; Tropical themed décor; Staff makes an excellent effort; Fun energy and a great local option. Reliable for the genre. Very big menu. http://www.mibanderarestaurant.com/