Step inside Sazon, the new Latin Caribbean restaurant and lounge from the team behind Sofrito, a popular mid-price Puerto Rican spot in midtown east. The bi-level place opened quietly last month in the Reade Street space formerly occupied by Fresh Tribeca; the swank and sexy interior design features bright tropical colors, black lacquered chandeliers, a tufted leather back wall, and a coveted private booth secluded behind thick drapes. The elegant yet relaxed vibe extends to the downstairs lounge—tagged wall-to-wall by street artist James De La Vega—where a second bar facilitates weekend salsa dancing parties.
Upstairs, Chef Ricardo Cardona, previously of Sofrito, serves a Puerto Rican-inspired menu that branches out throughout the Caribbean. An appetizer of dainty coconut arepas with crab meat escabeche ($12) are delicious and deceptively filling; four gigantic grilled shrimp with Puerto Rican rum glaze ($9) come served on skewers and could almost be a enough for a light dinner, but then there wouldn't be room for Sazon’s signature dish: Pernil ($19), consisting of three pounds of roast pork legs with pigeon pea rice and sweet plantains (pictured).
Other options include the big, creamy Sazon Paella ($23) with lobster, chorizo, clams, shrimp, and saffron; and the Whole Red Snapper that can be ordered with seafood stuffed inside the hollowed out fish skeleton—that one costs $28, but could easily feed two diners who don't mind staring down the Snapper's unblinking, reproachful eye. The cocktail list has a Latin inflection as well, and drinks range in price from $9 to $14. (The San Juan Martini, $11, consists of Bulldog Gin, Orange Liquor, White Cranberry juice, Muddled in cucumber.) Check out Cardona's expansive menu in full on Sazon's website. (And don't miss the desserts, especially the Tembleque: Coconut Eggless Custard with Cinnamon. Yum!)
Sazon // 105 Reade Street // (212) 406-1900 // Open for lunch, dinner, late night dancing, and Sunday brunch (Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Saturday 4:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., Sunday Brunch 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.)