Victor’s Café—Quite Simply the Best

| February 17, 2013

In 1957 Victor Del Corral left Cuba with his family and headed to New York with one very specific goal, to establish a Cuban restaurant in the heart of New York City—and in 1963 that is exactly what he did. Originally located on Columbus Avenue and 71st Street, they very rapidly became one of the more popular restaurants in the city. Needing more room for their growing list of devotees, in 1980, Victor’s moved to its current location in the theater district, where it has continued to captivate the hearts and palates of New Yorkers and theater goers. Since they first opened their doors over 50 years ago, millions of people, spanning multiple generations, have enjoyed Victor’s Café and quite frankly, I am rather shocked that this was my first time to this Cuban paradise. 

victors cafe barEntering Victor’s Café is like stepping back in history. We were greeted by some incredible, live Cuban music from a band that included a Grammy nominee. The restaurant has recently been completely renovated and this place sparkles—absolutely gorgeous! Warm colors, soft lighting and comfort at every turn. The ambiance was the perfect setting to enjoy the newest star of my foodie dreams—this is without a doubt the finest Cuban food that I have ever had the privilege of enjoying. Add to that the overall kindness and positive energy of the entire staff and you will never want to leave. 

Eager to get started we snuck into the menu via the cocktail list and tried the La Coqueta (gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, wild strawberry puree and Prosecco). A perfect balance and an absolutely delicious drink, this set the bar rather high—a level that would keep rising as the night continued.

We started with an array of appetizers including the delicious Bartolito (sweet plantain filled with roast Berkshire pork, olives and raisins over a zesty black bean sauce and goat cheese), the traditional Croqueticas De Jamon Con Salsa Lulu (smoked ham croquettes with lulu's savory sauce of roasted tomatoes and cachucha peppers) and the incomparable Ceviche De Pargo (Florida red snapper marinated with lime, onions and garlic over mango and avocado ). An absolutely extraordinary beginning to what would prove to be one of the great meals of the year.

Moving on to the entrées it was time for the Camarones Enchilados (large shrimp sautéed in a zesty creole sauce of tomatoes, garlic, onions, peppers), the Lechon Asado Al Estilo Del Puerto Boniato Con Moros Y Cristianos (roast suckling pig marinated in sour orange, olive oil, garlic and herbs, hand-carved and served with yuca in a garlic mojo and moros y cristianos) and the delicious and traditional Ropa Vieja (Victor's house specialty – shredded black angus skirt steak simmered in garlic, tomatoes, onions, and peppers nestled in a plantain basket). This was tradition meets the modern world, and was executed to a savory perfection.

victors cafe dessertThe desserts were just as spectacular as the meal and included the Flan de Huevo (traditional Cuban-style egg custard with a light caramel sauce), Arroz con Leche (creamy rice pudding scented with cinnamon and vanilla bean, nestled in a crispy almond basket), Bombon Cubano (molten chocolate lava cake filled with warm bittersweet chocolate ganache, served with creamy coconut ice cream) and the Guayabitas de Maria (fresh-baked warm guava cobbler with a rich buttercrumb topping, served with Tahitian vanilla ice cream). These were as you’d imagine all delicious, but it was the guava cobbler that truly knocked me out! An incredible marriage of sweet and salty, they actual flew in the creator to edify the staff on its proper creation—outstanding!

To accompany our array of desserts, we were treated to an incredible cocktail developed by Victor himself many years ago and one that he enjoyed on a regular basis. The Vitico (vanilla vodka, espresso shot, blue agave) was a delicious digestif that was the perfect ending to an absolutely unforgettable experience.

Victor’s Café—quite simply the best.

Victor's Cafe is located at 236 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019

(212) 586-7714