Bites Nearby: Cubacan
Cuban Restaurant opens right on the Boardwalk in Asbury Park just in time for summer
The ever evolving Asbury Park Boardwalk has had some restaurants come and go the past few years but the most recent addition I feel will be have a good run. Cubacan, a Cuban restaurant and bar, opened up next to the Watermark and a few doors down from the excellent Italian restaurant, Stella Marina. I went there for my birthday in April when they had just opened, and my friends and I were all pleased with the result.
For the most part, Cubacan is the only traditional Cuban restaurant near me and that’s what drew me to it right away. It also made me crave La Plaza Cubana, the Cuban sandwich place I frequented last summer.
Cubacan has a tapas menu that offers the traditional Cuban sandwich; perfect for sitting at the bar at happy hour from 3:30-6:30 with half price cocktails. I went there for a nice dinner, though, and it was definitely a treat.
We decided to order wine for the table, and split Camarones Fritos and the Empanadas for an appetizer. The Camarones Fritos were crispy breaded shrimp served with salsa verde, salsa rojo, and garlic aioli. The Empanadas stuffed with a choice of either sausage or chicken, served flaky and buttery. We also ordered Tostones, flattened, crisp plantains.
Everyone that came to dinner ordered something different, and we all actually spent way too much time trying to decide what we were in the mood for. (It’s hard when everything looks so good!) They offer salads for the lighter side, including the Arugula Frisee Salad, made with aged Manchego, marcona almonds and a tropical vinaigrette.
For an entrée, I ordered Costillas con Papaya, hickory smoked baby back ribs glazed with a tropical papaya sauce and served over white rice and black beans. The sauce was smokey but with a sweet element from the papaya. It was sooo good but messy! The waitress gave me a bowl of water and a towell to clean up with, so perhaps the ribs are an occasional dish but mouthwatering all the same.
The Ropa Vieja, slow braised shredded beef brisket is served with sauteed peppers, onions, Manzanilla olives, and peas in a tomato and wine sauce, served over white rice and black beans. The beef was so juicy it fell apart and melted into the sauce. Definitely a good dish when it’s chilly by the beach.
The Churrasco, marinated grilled skirt steak, is served with chimichurri sauce and also served over rice and beans. I was deciding between the ribs and this entrée when I ordered, but my friend had it and I was able to try some. They also serve seafood including Cuban grilled whole sea bass, and pan roasted red snapper served with black rice and a coconut cumin sauce.
We ordered a chocolate pudding for dessert, served in deep square dishes with coconut ice cream on top. The pudding was thick and not that sweet, with a spice to it. It definitely a different twist on a chocolate dessert, and I loved it. They also served us a white sponge cake that was soaked in three different milks and then drizzled with a raspberry sauce.
I would definitely suggest going back until you have sampled a decent variety of the menu. While dinner tends to be on the pricey side for special occasions, their happy hour and tapas menu is just as inviting. I will definitely be going here a few times this summer.