Luna Sur is located at 802 Ninth Avenue between 53rd and 54th Streets, (212) 262-1299, www.lunasurnyc.com, and is open for lunch Mon-Fri from noon to 4PM. Dinner is served Sun-Mon from 4PM-11PM, Tues-Sat 4 PM-midnight and brunch, Saturday and Sunday from 11AM-4PM. Stay tuned for pre-fixe menu for pre-theater dining coming soon.
There’s an indisputable connection between sun and fun that is clearly reflected in the food and culture of Latin America. Mario Zarate (owner of the very popular Cuban restaurants Guantanamera in the Theatre District and Amor Cubano in Harlem) has teamed up with Chef Isaias Ortiz (also of Guantanamera) at Luna Sur (Southern Moon) in Hell’s Kitchen to take guests on a tour of Peru, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba and other Latin nations. Inspired by people who are open to a range of experiences and flavors, Zarate has created a getaway, a Latin bistro where diners can indulge in a mix of Latin cultures, with Bold Flavors, Bright Colors and Brilliant Cocktails
You can feel the warmth from the moment you enter: From the friendly servers who greet you dressed in brightly colored shirts, suspenders and matching converse sneakers, to a palette of bright orange, tangerine and lime on the painted wood paneled walls to the colorful placemats, and from the skylight that brightens the back dining room, as well as a floor-to-ceiling glass garage door that opens up in warm weather for service on the back patio, in addition to sidewalk seating.
The ideal meal begins with cocktails and tapas. The restaurant has designed a cocktail menu that includes twists on classic Latin bebidas, using infused spirits and fresh fruit purees. You’ll find traditional Pisco Sours, as well as the Peruvian favorite made with pineapple, orange, or cinnamon-apple infused Pisco. The Watermelon Fresca is muddled fresh watermelon, fresh lime juice, and basil in a gin cocktail. The famous Cuban rum cocktail, the Mojito, is served in classic mode, as well as in versions prepared with rum-infused with fresh fruit: guava, pineapple, raspberry, mango, coconut and passion fruit. In addition to a choice of fresh or frozen margaritas, and the option of fruit puree flavors, there is also the Pepino Picante Margarita, a spicy, refreshing margarita made with jalapeno-infused tequila, cucumbers, fresh lime and agave nectar. And for a real blend of cultures, try the Sangrita, a frozen margarita shot through with red Sangria. There is also a choice of beers by the bottle and on tap, white or red Sangria by the glass or pitcher, and a changing selection of wines from Argentina, Spain, Chile, the US and France, by the glass or bottle.
With drink in hand, diners are ready for a selection of small plates for sharing such as Pulpo Al Oliva, tender slices of octopus paired with a creamy, thick Kalamata olive sauce and Chorizo al Vino, slices of savory Spanish sausage marinated in Spanish red wine. Also not to be missed is the Cauza Limena, a traditional dish from Lima, Peru, wonderfully subtle, composed of smooth, delicate mashed potato layered with avocado and crab, or the addictive Luna Llena, avocado blended with Manzana, apple-strawberry-cinnamon sauce, served in the avocado shell and topped with grilled shrimp.
Larger plates include Pechuga Rellena con Salsa de Pina y Guayaba, crispy breaded chicken stuffed with ham and cheese, paired with a luscious guava sauce and served with flavorful, well-seasoned black beans and white rice. Salmon Salcero is a wonderful well-balanced mixture of sweet and savory, grilled salmon with roasted sweet plantains and tender spinach, and Tropical Mahi Mahi, garlic marinated with mango, pineapple and papaya pico de gallo, and yellow rice. But perhaps the stars of the show are the classic entrees—Lechoncito, completely tender suckling pig roasted for eight hours, served with garlicky mojo sauce and cassava; Arroz Con Mariscos, saffron-flavored rice abundant with shellfish (mussels, clams, shrimp, octopus, squid, scallops), the famous pressed Cuban Sandwich with roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles, and the National Dish of Argentina, El Gaucho Churrasco, fire-grilled skirt steak served with Luna Sur’s signature chimi-churri sauce.
For dessert, there are classic Latin sweets—creamy Flan with homemade caramel sauce, Tres Leches Cake (light sponge cake soaked in three milks), Cuban Rum Guava Bread Pudding, made from Cuban bread, with rum-infused guava, and the Torta de Chocolate, Mexican hot chocolate in a cake, flavored with cinnamon, chili and cayenne.
To add to the fun, there’s live music, three sets per evening, 6 nights a week (Monday-Saturday), beginning at 8:00 PM, featuring Salsa, Merengue and Latin Jazz with a changing roster of artists, including Xiomara Laugart, a Cuban singer who recently debuted off-Broadway, portraying the Latin music legend in “Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz” as well as a live DJ for weekend brunch. Wednesdays from 4 PM until closing, margaritas, sangria and mojitos, all flavors, frozen or regular are all just $6. A bar menu to complement the cocktails will be introduced soon.
The Hell’s Kitchen location makes it a great spot pre- or post-theater. Downstairs there’s room for special events, cocktail parties, cooking classes, wine dinners, private dinners, or business meetings.
Great place with really friendly service. Absolutely one of the best bangs for the buck near the theater district.
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