El Sitio de Astoria Cuban Food in Astoria / Long Island City

Posted on October 24, 2008. Filed under: Astoria, Cheap Dining, Cuban, LIC |

After passing by El Sitio (37-01 31st Street Long Island City/ Astoria 718-278-7694) a few times, a friend and I were inspired to finally sample this Cuban restaurant, endorsed by Astoria Knife and Fork. The humble little gem that sits nestled under the train tracks is not to be missed. From the authentic inexpensive ($6-$11) food to the jukeboxes perched on the wall over every table– this eatery is truly unique. For more casual dining, bar service is available- serving various wines, sangria, El Presidente, XX , Jupina and the popular herbal cuban soda- Materva. El Sitio offers an array of traditional hearty Cuban entrees that start off with a free basket of buttered garlic bread and a modest plate of ham croquets. The drunken chicken begs for a moment of sobriety. The bird drowns mercilessly in a rich tomato base accompanied by potatoes, onions, olives, mushrooms and carrots. The beef stew is large cuts of tender beef sauteed in a brown sauce with potatoes on the side. The famous Cuban sandwich can be elusive in these parts of country. At El Sitio it is made to perfection. The buttered cuban bread is topped with thick slices of ham, pork, swiss cheese, mustard and pickles- then pressed to a crispy-melted artery clogging festival for your taste-buds. Skip the flan for dessert and ask for one thing that’s not on the menu, the corda dito- a small Cuban espresso- the grinds are sweetened before the water hits them- making a deep, rich and sweet tasting drink that’s mixed with foam milk and sprinkled with cinnamon.  Besides the tasty fare, it’s easy to see why “the place” is a real neighborhood hang-out for Astoria’s Latin American community and then some. At El Sitio no face goes unrecognized and if you’re new, the staff treats you like a regular. The dining area offers a not-so-contemporary DIY choice of Latin American music on the personal juke-boxes, a jungle of ivy vines plastered to the ceiling, a bathroom that requires you to be buzzed in with a doorbell and a kind-spirited waitress heavy on the eyeliner.

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