I decided to check out Cafecito, a recently opened Cuban restaurant in the East Village (Avenue C between 11th & 12th). I went this past Friday around 7:30 and was able to get a table for two easily.
I started out with a mojito ($7) that was pretty good - potent but not overpowering and tons of mint. We shared the appetizer sampler ($6) - I would recommend sticking with the croquetas de jamon which were the highlight of the appetizers (croquetas are $1.25 for 2 croquettes if ordered ala carte). The empanada was decent, but the crust seemed a bit floury and not as crispy as I would like it. The papa rellena had too much mashed potato for my taste, but the beef filling is tasty. The bollos (Cuban hushpuppies made with black beans) were greasy and overcooked.
For entrees, we tried the Cubano classic sandwich ($6.25) - huge portion! Very nice, the bread was crispy on the outside, the garlicky mayo was nice and it was stuffed with a good amount of roasted pork and ham. We took half home and they wrap it in a foil-type wrapper that you can stick straight into the oven when you want to reheat it at home. The other entree we tried was the churrasco - grilled skirt steak ($9.25). A decent portion, tender, and the chimichurri sauce was amazing. With the steak, we had a choice of black or red beans (we chose black - needed more seasoning), yellow or white rice ( we chose yellow - very nice), and tostones or maduros (we chose tostones; kind of soggy but the garlic sauce was really good).
We closed with a cafe con leche ($1.25) and a tres leches cake ($3). The cake was a bit dry and very sweet but served with fresh diced pineapple and fresh cream. Overall, it was a good place and I'll come back to try more things (and have more croquetas!), such as the other sandwiches and other entrees. The only things over $10 were the larger portions of sangrias and the fish dishes. Cash only, but there is an ATM down at the corner of 12th & Ave. C.