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Great new tropical restaurants and bars to warm your winter nights

These new spots serving the food and drink of the tropics arrived just in time to take the edge off winter.


Playa Betty’s
320 Amsterdam Ave., Upper West Side

The team behind Reunion Surf Bar thought the Upper West Side could use a little chill, too. This new spot is also styled after a surf shack, including the owners’ personal boards and a wall of nostalgic movie posters. The kitchen turns out “California-style beach food” from food truck fare like tacos, which can be grabbed from a quick-service area, to healthy trends (“dharma bowls” of grains, greens and proteins including Veracruz snapper). Grab a seat for DIY guacamole, frozen palomas and the beach bum budget-friendly whole roasted chicken with grilled corn and salsas for $20.


Villa Cemita
50 Ave. A, East Village

This family-run operation — mom Alejandra Aco does the cooking while brother-sister duo share front-of-house duties — just grew into a full-on restaurant. The Puebla cuisine (a melding of old Spanish and French techniques with Mexican ingredients) includes their own version of a fried chicken sandwich with Oaxaca cheese (and ham!) on sesame seed bread. Weekend brunch is a breezy $20 and includes a hour of bottomless mimosas or sangria, or specialty cocktails like the Pico de Paloma (Tequesta, Jarrito grapefruit soda, jalapeno and lime) are just $8 during happy hour.


Solomon & Kuff
2331 12th Ave., West Harlem

There's nothing like a rum cocktail to thaw your frozen core, and this sprawling new Caribbean gastropub has managed to collect over 100 varieties of the golden liquor behind the bar. Though it’s a cozy spot for starting your evening, swing by when it’s still daylight out for great views of the Hudson River through its floor-to-ceiling windows while you nosh on West Indies-style bites like cauliflower and saltfish fritters, sandwiches on Jamaican starchy-sweet coco bread, and a whole porgy in mango butter emulsion. The house burger is topped with a scotch bonnet papaya aioli, if you think you can handle it.


Pearl’s
178 N. Eighth St., Williamsburg

John Seymour has a way with chicken & waffles at Sweet Chick, but it’s his wife Fallon cooking the Trinidadian food she grew up with on the southern Caribbean island at their new fast-casual spot. The menu draws from her grandmother’s kitchen and the street foods of San Fernando, with dishes that tend toward the rich and spicy side, like sweet plantains with tamarind chili sauce, and sandwiches served on a fried bread called bake. Rein in the heat with a Frozen Ginger Dark & Stormy or rum punch.

 

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