Latin fusion: Crusado in Midtown

If you drive past Cruzado fast enough, it will blend in with the other quant Midtown homes on Fifth Street. Boasting Cuban-influenced Latin cuisine, the space almost looks like a little house. The spot has a lot of charm and character because of its neighborhood location, but also has a number of parking concerns because guests must rely on street parking.

One thing that is unique about Cruzado is the space is in two parts. A more traditional dining experience is offered on the left side of the restaurant, while a lounge is located on the right. This evening, we opted for the lounge (which is opened a little later than the dining space, for the night time adventure seeker).

The smaller lounge space has a much more attractive décor than the humble dinning area. There are booth spaces that almost feel like beach cabanas, separated by sheer curtains. There is one communal high-top table in the center and a small bar, but the room is surrounded by cozy chairs, benches and sofas.

The small space was charming, but a TV on HGTV in the corner seemed out of place. The dance music was a bit obnoxious and seemed better suited for a trendy clothing boutique.

Service was easy and friendly. The staff was very relaxed and friendly. They were excited to explain menu items and were not scared to make recommendations about the food and drink options.

Cruzado’s lounge offers hookah for its guests. The price for hookah is a bit much ($20 – $25) but we did receive a complimentary refill. The exotic flavors, like passion fruit mojito and blue crush, could be mixed.

The cocktail menu was nothing revolutionary, but what you would expect in a Cuban-inspired lounge. A fresh mojito is surprisingly satisfying on a cold winter night, if you want to pretend you are on a warm Caribbean beach. The beer and wine list was also infused with many Latin grape varietals and cervezas.

Everything on the lounge side, food wise, was tapas. It was great for the atmosphere and great  for a group of friends to share and have fun. Plates range from $5 to $11 and were on par for a traditional tapas serving size. A highlight was the shrimp ceviche. It was served with jalapeños and avocado. Instead of the traditional tortilla chip, it was paired with crispy plantain chips.

The lime chicken wings and the calamari were also highlights. The chicken wings fell off the bone and were very moist and tender. The calamari was not too chewy and was served with a lime and a spicy cilantro garlic sauce.

Although the music is a bit much, Cruzado is a sexy space to take a date out for a fun and trendy evening, but not too much for a group of friends in search of Latin snacks and a good hooka.  This little midtown nook comes highly recommended.