Nuevo Latino encroaches on Viejo Latino territory at this outer borough bistro. Entering Cabana, with its sunshine-yellow walls and tall artificial palms is like falling into a ripe mango. The local ladies who lunch sip frothy tropical concoctions while the local business tycoons down Coronas. They all savor sunshine tastes like the authentically Dominican chicharrones de pollo and a dazzlingly mild pollo alajillo, and coconut-flecked tangerine-glazed salmon. they move on to desserts like an enormous brownie topped with coconut ice cream. Sit back and enjoy; after two drinks, the palms seem to sway and lunch or dinner seems like a mini vacation.
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When the temperature plummets, I find myself glancing at menus posted in windows, sniffing exhausts for the scent of chile and the warm molasses odor of rum, in search of a vacation on a plate. My local standbys, with their warming ...