First - how amusing is this thread? I thought my salsa and cottage cheese phase was something to hide. It seems so commonplace compared to lots of these items!
Sunday I met Renée for brunch at Calle Ocho. It had been months since we caught up and her suggestion of eating at a restaurant participating in Time Out for Hunger helped narrow things down to Calle Ocho. Plus, I've wanted to go for the longest time. Fortunately we had a reservation, which ensured prompted seating, as those without were turned away.
Upon sitting down our waitress informed us that it was Sangria Sunday (!) meaning FREE, UNLIMITED sangria with your brunch. Good sangria. 6 types to choose from. You also receive a tasty little crate with various sweet muffins accompanied by pink butter (didn't have a flavor) and a tasty black bean puree of some sort.
I ordered the Vaca Frita ($13). It was a little greasy, but not enough to put me off so it may or may not be noticeable to other people. I cleaned up the ENTIRE plate. The skirt steak was tender, the latin fried rice (spicy seasoning, bacon, and black beans) was unique and flavorful, the over medium eggs perfectly cooked, and the tomato/avocado offset everything perfectly. Renée had the cuban sandwich. It was good as far as they go... The amount of pickle was perfect for once - you could taste it but it wasn't like biting a giant chunk of kosher dill. The latino chips were thin, crisps of plantain.
The service was efficient without hovering and they didn't rush us through our meal and sangria. We lingered for almost 2 hours without any dirty looks or stolen half-finished plates. We could hear each other talk without trouble. The atmosphere was pleasant - very open, airy, and full of natural light. I'm curious about what it looks like at night, but I'll have to save up for that trip as prices are significantly more expensive then. All in all, I can't wait to go back!
Location: 446 Columbus Avenue between 81st and 82nd Streets
Hours: Mon-Thurs 6p-11p, Fri 6p-12a, Sat 5p-12am, Sun 11:30a-3p
Cost: $$ (for brunch), $$$ (other times)