Montclair Restaurant Review: Cuban Pete’s

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Published September 27, 2021
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The Montclarion
The coconut white fish included roasted sweet potato and sweet and sour fruit salsa. Photo courtesy of Purnasree Saha

Located 10 minutes from Montclair State University’s campus in downtown Montclair, Cuban Pete’s is a popular Cuban and Spanish-style restaurant known to have a fun, island-like atmosphere.

Living up to its reputation, you will be greeted with a warm welcome by the waitresses and waiters and hear peaceful banjo music playing on the radio. There is a smell of fresh seafood and meat as soon as you sit down.

The front of Cuban Petes and the palm trees that surround it can be spotted from Bloomfield Ave. Photo Courtesy by Purnasree Saha

The front of Cuban Pete’s and the palm trees that surround it can be spotted from Bloomfield Ave.
Photo courtesy of Purnasree Saha

The atmosphere is inspiring. It creates a sense of being on an island due to the noise of the waterfall. The restaurant is decorated with Christmas lights inside and has various island plants outside. The surprisingly comfortable chairs seemed to be made from bamboo, adding to the ambiance.

If you don’t make a reservation, the waiting time is 35 to 40 minutes for dine-in or take-out. When it comes to the weekend, the restaurant will undoubtedly be busy so be sure to reserve a table at least a week ahead of time.

At the entrance, you're greeted with island trees and string lights. Photo Courtesy by Purnasree Saha

At the entrance, you’re greeted with island trees and string lights.
Photo courtesy of Purnasree Saha

The menu consists of various sandwiches, ensaladas and tapas, which are small, Spanish savory dishes. From these choices, customers get an option of trying these Cuban classics in either nuevo (new) or viejo (old) style entrees. These entrees include seafood such as shrimp and fish, or can also come with chicken and beef.

The Viejo Cubanos entrees include savory black beans, regular rice and a side of yuca, a Spanish root-vegetable similar to a potato. The Nuevo Cubanos entrees are served with coconut rice and mashed boniato, which is a baked Cuban sweet potato.

As I was browsing through the menu, my eyes were mostly focusing on the seafood entrees, since I am a fan of fish. But, it was nice to see that they offer a wide variety of poultry and meat dishes as well.

The Bahama coconut fish seemed to be the most delightful, especially because you have an option of either getting the whole fish or a filet. The fish is toasted with coconut and includes tropical salsa, which is both sweet and sour.

The pollo sandwich is known to be mouth-watering and it consists of grilled chicken breast, avocado, vine-ripe tomatoes and cilantro pesto. This sandwich was delicious and I wish they offered it at fast-food restaurants.

The crunchy and juicy red snapper was topped with pickled red onions. Photo Courtesy by Purnasree Saha

The crunchy and juicy red snapper was topped with pickled red onions.
Photo courtesy of Purnasree Saha

After pondering the menu, I decided to order the Bahama coconut fish and the whole red snapper. It looked like a lot, so I decided to split it with my sister. The coconut rice and black beans made for a perfect combination, especially once I mixed the black bean gravy with the coconut rice.

It was delicious. Both the coconut fish and red snapper were crunchy yet tender. As I took the first bite of the red snapper, it was juicy and the skin was oily from the fryer. The texture of the fish also felt moist and soft.

Montclair State students and people who live in the area should visit Cuban Pete’s as it includes a variety of Cuban and Spanish-style dishes. Even vegetarians can enjoy the restaurant with their vegetarian dishes and desserts.

The prices for the entrees were a bit high, but this is a good place to try something new and split a seafood dish with a friend. All the desserts are $5 and you have an option of getting either pudding or a custard pie.

Cuban Pete’s is open seven days a week, from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays, they are open until midnight.

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