Sazón is the Spot For Cuban Food

Considering that Sazón Cuban Cuisine has anchored the corner of Collins Avenue and 73rd Street for so many years, you really don't see much written about it. And when you take into account just how fresh and authentic the cooking here is, the lack of attention is even more surprising.

Prices are pretty hard to beat as well. A pair of tostones rellenos (in photo) overflowing with some of the best ropa vieja in town is $4.50 (a main course of the shredded beef dish, with two sides, is $12.95). Three croquetas (served with lettuce, tomatoes, and Cuban crackers) goes for $5.95. Arroz con pollo for one is $13.95, but only six dollars more for two; drag in a date, because it's a tasty rendition.

And it is a big menu.

There are daily lunch and dinner specials. On the Wednesday I visited, corn stew (guiso de maiz) was available for $4.25 -- or a large for $7.95. Fried chick peas with sausage and ham was touted as a special too ($9.95), but you can snare this hearty dish as an appetizer any old time ($6.95). Anyway, I'm a sucker for lechón asado so that's what I ordered; it arrived moist, flavorful, generously portioned, topped with onions, and plated with my choice of moros and fried plantains. This hefty plate of food is $13.95; most meat and chicken entrees cost about the same, with seafood specialties ranging from $15.95 to $19.95.

Sandwiches are solid too ($6.95 to $9.95), partly because the Cuban bread used here is fresh and flaky. Try the namesake creation that pairs ropa vieja and french fries -- I call it a Sloppy José. There are likewise breads filled with chorizo and onions; ham croquetas, pickles, and cheese; and traditional pan con bistec (just $8.95) and sandwich Cubano ($7.95 or the special for a dollar extra).

The café Cubano here is peerless -- although the version prepared next door, at Café Sazón, is pretty close.

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