On weekends, Catharsis Restaurant and Lounge pulses with the Latin drum beats of Buena Vista Social Club's "El Cuarto de Tula." Alma Castellanos, a flamboyant singer with cascading auburn curls, cranks it up with songs ranging from "Ay! Mamá Inés" to Juanucho Lopez's "Jaquetón Pachanguero." Her voice is much like the restaurant's vibe: loud, energetic, and animated.
The 80-seat dining room is packed. Excessively perfumed, scarlet-lipped women sit across from their dates: men with graying, slicked-back hair and crisp button-up shirts (or the occasional guayabera). At this Little Havana eatery, almost everyone sings along because they all know the lyrics.