(my review of ) CUBAN CROCODILE

I love me some Cuban food. When I saw that CUBAN CROCODILE (26 East Park Ave, Long Beach, NY) was opening in Long Beach, I got very excited. When I saw the menu, I got even more excited. Being away on vacation, catching up with work and having some other personal issues kept me away from actually trying the place, until this week. So I finally went. What did I think?

DECOR: Do you want a cool looking place in Long Beach that mimics what’s going on in Brooklyn as far as decor goes? Well, this is the place. OUT with the fake Tuscan beige and IN with natural wood beams, exposed brick walls and tin tile ceilings. The decor at Cuban Crocodile really made me feel like we’re getting some “cool” places around here. My wife says it’s mission-style, if that means anything to you want-to-be designers out there.

(Interior photos taken from the Cuban Crocodile Facebook Group.)

SERVICE & BREAD: The service was excellent. We didn’t wait too long for anything (bread, water, ordering, drinks, food, check) and we didn’t feel rushed to eat and leave. I only eat bread when I go to a fancy restaurant, so almost all bread tastes good to me. This bread was especially warm and tasted great with the garlic butter that it came with.

SALAD/ APPETIZER: I started off with a Caribbean Salad which was out of this world. This salad was fruit (strawberries, mango, peaches) and lettuce topped with this awesome tangy vinaigrette. I love tangy. I love mango. I love fruit. I was in heaven. This salad was also nice and light; I didn’t feel like I ate a million pounds of food before my main course. I felt good. My stomach felt good. My taste buds were happy. So far soooo good.

ENTREES: Ropa Veija, which is spanish for old clothes, was everything but. Shredded flank steak, peppers, onions, wine tomato sauce with black beans and white rice on the side =  yummy goodness. There was a lot of flavor going on here. I was kinda hoping for some yellow rice instead of white, but no big deal. The rice and beans were a perfect combination with this dish. I mixed all three (shredded steak, rice, beans) together and it tasted awesome. The one thing I want when I go out to eat is flavor, but not compromised with sugar or salt. It’s all about the seasonings. The Ropa Veija was a perfect example of that – while most places count on salt, Cuban Crocodile used the right amount of seasonings. This was definitely a great dish.

We also got some Tostones (Green Fried Bananas) on the side and those were great too. I have no idea what type of sauce they came with, but it was so tasty – especially when a tostones accidentally falls into the bowl and gets smothered in it.

I loved this restuarant. The service was great, the decor looked awesome and the food was very tasty and fresh. I plan on adding Cuban Crocodile (26 East Park Ave, Long Beach, NY)  to my usual restaurant rotation, so I hope they stick around.  I do realize that the majority of comments in food reviews are generally negative. It happened with the Cafe Picasso review with tough meat being the number one complaint (I still haven’t tried the meat there, but I love their pasta). It happens when I mention SUGO on this blog (which I personally think is one of the better fine-dining places on the South Shore of Long Island.) And it happened with Cuban Crocodile when I posted the menu a few weeks ago. I give Cuban Crocodile’s owner props for reaching out to people and taking all the feedback seriously. That tells me that this owner really cares and is constantly looking for ways to improve the overall experience, even though some of us (like me) think it’s great already. If you went there after they first opened and didn’t have the best experience, definitely give them another shot. It’s only fair to give new restaurants some time to work out some kinks before they get their flow going.

Oh yeah, and the check came in a cigar box. How cool is that?

Cuban Crocodile 
26 East Park Ave
Long Beach, NY 

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8 thoughts on “(my review of ) CUBAN CROCODILE”

  1. I hope that they get the message and be good enough to hang around. Because of all the restaurants here in Long Beach and in Island Park, there are not too many of them that I would say is really outstanding, in fact I’d say very few if any meet that tittle of being great.

  2. I did not have as good an experience as Anthony, unfortunately. I agree that the service was good and I have no complaints about it. But the food…. meh. I too had the Carribbean Salad and can swear that the peaches in that salad came from a can. Not that I don’t love me some canned peaches but when ordering a salad at a restaurant, I would expect fresh cut fruit. Also, I hate to (and really shouldn’t) use the word “bland” when I talk about cuban food, but the chicken was in fact bland and dry. I hated asking for the hot sauce, salt and pepper, but I did.

    On the flip side… the mojito was delish!!

    I don’t like to be that critical when eating out. I just want a good meal. And while this was not a good as hoped… I will try it again and hopefully chalk my first experience up to a bad nite.

  3. crazy. my peaches were definitely not from a can. that’s great that you will try again though. I always like to give new places a second try before I write them off.

  4. ha, i used the word “definitely” didn’t I? My wife just told me they were canned.. but I swear I thought they were fresh. Well, it didn’t take anything away, because i did still enjoy it.. haha. maybe it’s been far too long since I last had a peach.

  5. Hi Westender and Anthony .. You are actually both right and wrong. The actual fruit that is suppose to be in that salad is Papaya. Papaya became very expensive early March, I switched it to Peaches (although not an exact substitute I had found some lovely ones ) by the second week of March Peaches were no where to be seen. I did use canned peaches for three weeks) . Westender I am sorry that at The Cuban Crocodile you picked the grilled chicken as an entree, that chicken is marinated for at least 10 hours in a mojo marinade, but clearly not the most exciting thing on my menu. Since I do try to go to every table the next your in making a visit let me know so I can suggest a more classic Cuban dish.
    Always feel free to call me 516-442-2994

  6. I’ve been meaning to comment about my experience at Cuban Crocodile for some time. I’ve dined there twice since it opened. First with my husband. we both thought the service was great and the food was pretty good however my second trip was with several girlfriends and I have to be honest, the meat was over cooked. I will not go into details b/c I am a fan of the restaurant and want it to be successful The restaurant has a great feel to it, good service but pleeeease…..ask the chef to step it up and stop over cooking the meat/poultry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Went there last night, took a friend out for his birthday. I ordered the beef empenadas and chorizo tapas for the table, and I ordered the Chimichurri steak, medium rare and he ordered the steak sandwich. The beef empenadas were okay, I needed the hot sauce to give them a little zest. The chorizo tapas were excellent. I could have made a meal out of those alone. The steak was cooked just right and was delicious. I asked the waitress what she recommended between the ropa vieja and the steak and she told me to go with the steak. I wasn’t disappointed. My friend also raved about the steak sandwich. Overall, the service was friendly, and the food was delicious. I will definately go back.

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