Last week I went to a menu tasting at Favela Cubana, a new-ish Latin-themed oasis located on a quiet stretch of LaGuardia Place just south of Washington Square Park. Out front you'll find a quaint patio situated beneath strings of colorful lights, and once you step inside you'll feel like you've been transported to a neighborhood cafe in the heart of Havana. Large, colorful photo murals and cabinets filled with Brazilian Cachaca 51 rum line the walls, while slow-moving ceiling fans whir overhead and conga drums double as bar stools.
The space holds up to 100 people for private events, and owner Marco Britti assured me that the kitchen can create custom buffet and hors d'oeuvres menus. The cuisine is combination of traditional Brazilian and Cuban fare. It's not fusion, though—the menu features a mix of dishes from both countries, like Ropa Vieja and Bahia-style shrimp (prepared with peppers, onions, tomato, and coconut milk). And of course, there's an assortment of flavored mojitos and fresh-fruit caipirinhas. So if you're planning on hosting a formal wedding, Favela Cubana would be the perfect counterpoint for hosting a more laid-back, festive rehearsal dinner (or even a pre-night out on the town bachelorette party dinner). Visit the restaurant at 543 La Guardia Place or on the web at favelacubana.com. —Lauren Matthews, editor, Brides New York