It’s Spring Break time and many families are off enjoying vacations on the islands in the Caribbean. Not planning a trip to a sunny destination? No worries, because Island foodies can experience a taste of this paradise much closer to home.
From Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to Cuba and other Latin American locales, delicious flavors from these regions reside right here in our own backyard. Long Island offers many restaurants featuring authentic Caribbean and Latin American cuisine — sights and sounds of the island getaways included. So if jet setting to the tropics is not in the foreseeable future, try one of these locations to bring a taste of island food back home.
Café Havana prides itself on being able to offer “a trip out of this country without ever leaving your seat.” Its menu consists of Cuban and Puerto-Rican influences, including mofongo, paella, and even the “classic” Cuban sandwich.
Price Range: Main courses range from $16 to $35 dollars
Where: 944 W. Jericho Tpke. Smithtown, NY 11787
Contact info: (631) 670-6277
Casa Vieja offers traditional Latin American food with lots of variety from La Arepa con Queso and white corn griddle cakes stuffed with cheese to tamales and enchiladas. Customers can check Casa Vieja’s website for detailed descriptions of their meals including what ingredients are used in the preparations.
Price Range: Entrees range from $10 to $15 dollars
Where: 1768 Brentwood Road, Brentwood, NY 11717
Contact info: (631) 434-8255
Touting “the finest Colombian cuisine,” Gallo Restaurant’s Colombian platters are as “native as it gets.” You can choose pork rind or sausage with your meal accompanied by rice, beans, and a choice of either sweet or green plantains with a fried egg.
Price Range: Main courses range from $11 to $24 dollars
Where: 3 East Main Street, Patchogue, NY 11772
Contact info: (631) 475-4667
Golden Krust bakery and grill “exists to provide the taste of the Caribbean to the world.” With 3 locations in Long Island, Golden Krust is more similar to a fast food chain that offers the best of Caribbean flavor. Its menu includes favorites like Jerk Chicken and Braised Oxtail Combo meals as well as sweet treats like Rock Cake — a crunchy outside, fluffy inside pastry filled with coconut.
Price Range: Most items under $13
Where: 777 North Broadway, Amityville, NY 11701; 1717 Dutch Broadway, Elmont, NY 11003; 296 Greenwich St., Hempstead, NY 11550
Contact info: (631) 789-8777 Amityville, (516) 887-8848 Elmont, (516) 483-3663 Hempstead
Laguna Grille’s motto is “We Cook with Fire…Serve with Passion,” and it shows. They cook up the best of the Caribbean by offering meals like “Coco Loco Shrimp” served with horseradish citrus marmalade and “Trio Pinchos” mixed marinated skewers with beef, shrimp, and chicken. BONUS: Kids 10 and under eat free at Laguna Grille (must order from the kids menu, dine in only, maximum 2 per party).
Price Range: Main courses range from $18 to $24 dollars
Where: Laguna Grille has two locations in Long Island — 1610 Old Country Rd, Westbury, NY 11590 and 7927 Jericho Turnpike, Woodbury, NY 11797
Contact info: (516) 745-1400 Westbury and (516) 682-8000 Woodbury
The folks at Rumba say the idea of the restaurant was to “create a place where everyone who visits is transported to a sun warmed island where there’s soft sand under your feet and a cool breeze blowing through your hair while enjoying a tasty meal and fun drinks.” Usually closed in January and February, the restaurant has plans to remain open all year round starting in 2013.
Price Range: Main courses range from $15 to $28 dollars
Where: 43 Canoe Place Road, Hampton Bays, NY
Contact info: (631) 594-3544
The owners of Sweet Plantains have long “dreamed of bringing the taste of authentic Dominican cuisine” to Long Island. The menu includes everything from empanadas to oxtail. Don’t forget to try the sweet and fried plantains, all prepared with Dominican flare.
Price Range: Main courses range from $9 to $12 dollars
Where: 141 N. Park Ave, Rockville Centre, NY 11570
Contact info: (516) 442-5524
By Kim Como