A Taste of the Caribbean in SoHo


Can you get a sense of the islands at Manhattan’s ultra posh SoHo district? Well, casual and bright Ideya takes you away, for a brief moment, to a café in the tropics, somewhere exotic and tranquil, like Cuba or Barbados. Fresh ingredients parlayed into Latin food, coupled with potent umbrella drinks and colorful tropical graffiti spans the wall above. As you enter, you are greeted by a friendly staff seating you on a bright banquette that resembles a relaxed beach chair. The bar is loaded with a myriad of tequilas, piscos, and cachaças — all building blocks for some of the best bebidas you’ll ever savor.

Owner Lauren Small and Chef Isaac Reyes have been serving up Caribbean, Mexican, and Bahamian-inspired dishes to a SoHo crowd for 12 years. Chef Reyes’ food is best described as passionate and simplistic, like the complimentary basket of bronzed curly fried plantains served with a technicolor bowl of salsa. Ideya's menus are split into aperitivos, principales, and house specialties, like taquitos de mariscos, a pile of seafood nestled in a crispy tortilla with chile de arbol and poblano pico de gallo. Featured on Ideya's lunch menu is torta de pollo, a pressed sandwich of fire grilled chicken with pickles, Swiss cheese, and chipotle mayonnaise.

Those seeking something a little more filling are in luck because Ideya is known for their succulent meats! The bistec de Argentina, a slightly chewy sliced skirt steak, is served with a dollop of garden fresh chimichurri. Empanadas-a dish carried to Latin countries in medieval times by Spanish colonists — are here too. There are many versions of empanadas, yet Ideya perfects their version. This mouthwatering meal has just the right amount of juicy beef bursting with Latin spices and taste. On Ideya's dinner menu, you’ll do well with Chef Reyes’ signature roasted chicken breast on a mound of cilantro, zesty sofrito, whipped yucca, and chorizo hash.

Ideya’s sides won’t disappoint either! A fire-charred Mexican-spiced corn on the cob was ordered at the table next to this reviewer. Like a round of cold beers on a summer’s day- naturally I partook. Ideya is a great place for a quick bite of Latin fare with many different continents taking place as an inspiration. Like any Latin dish should be, Ideya’s meals are fresh, delicious, and worth every single bite.

Darren Atkins' site, DMANBURGER follows his quest to find the best burger in New York City.