A New York City staple for Cuban cuisine, Victor’s Café, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Third generation owner Monica Zaldivar shares why the oldest Cuban restaurant in the city is such a hot spot and why so many people return day after day, like true family members.

Established in 1963, Victor’s Café opened its doors to customers under the management of Victor Del Corral.

“I am so proud to keep my grandfather’s legacy alive,” says Monica Zaldivar, granddaughter of Victor and current owner and manager of Victor’s Café. “Here, customers can expect to be treated as family and have an overall good time – killer cocktails, authentic quality Cuban food, lively atmosphere, live music, and friendly service,” she says.

The café offers plenty of tasty Cuban selections from eight different menus. Their signature dish, ropa vieja ($26), is a huge seller. Top quality skirt steak is braised with vegetables to intensify the flavors before the beef is shredded. A sofrito is then prepared, and the ropa vieja is cooked until ready to serve. The dish is served nestled in a plantain basket, which is not only appealing to the eyes, but is a nice addition to the meal.

Zaldivar personally favors the red snapper ceviche (left, $16), which contains avocado and mango, making the dish tasty, fresh, and light. For those looking to enjoy Victor’s Café on the lighter side, a reasonably priced tapas menu ($7-$12) offers customers anything from Malanga fritters in a cilantro dip ($8) to fried green plantains topped with pork hash and sautéed onions ($12).

Victor’s Café is all about hospitality, a trait that comes naturally to Zaldivar.

“There is nothing that I love more than hosting people,” she says. “I genuinely love to make people feel happy, special, and at home at Victor’s Café. I also love to hear the customers’ stories about my grandfather and about their experiences at the café, past and present."

Even celebrities are regulars to the café. Some famous faces include Rod Stewart, Juanes, Barbara Walters, Pitbull, Beyoncé, Lena Dunham, Jason Alexander, and Brett Ratner.


Here’s to another 50 years at Victor’s Café!