Gente, good news!! In my never-ending mission of breaking the everyday work routine (see my review of Bar Carrera), I have now, for sure, solved this problem without breaking my budget. Ok, maybe I’m not the first one to think of this, but I have found a great spot in NYC where the food is part of the happy hour, every night of the work week! Yeah!! So, por favor, no need for long weeks of planning (NYC-style) to have a good time when you can easily go the place that stands for it, Agozar!, a Nuevo Cubano restaurant lounge right at the corner of Bleecker and Bowery.
A colorful and playful sign on the façade, makes no mistake you hurry up and come in on time for the happy hour, which runs for 5-8pm Monday through Saturday,offering drinks and tapas for half the price. Esto quiere decir ba-ra-to!! Once inside, a traditional dark wood bar on one side and high wooden tables on the other wall style the way to open the appetite. Orangey tones on the wall bounce the elegant lighting, as well as brick walls, and rustic decorations. Upbeat Latin percussion music on the background asks you for a drink immediately. Go for it, the fiesta is on for a few hours!! You definitely want to try one of the two signature drinks: the sangria (house recipe of red wines with tropical fruits) or the mojitos (with freshly mashed mint, of course.)
Agozar! (spelled as one word and with exclamation point) merges perfectly Spanish influences of tapas and savory Cuban cuisine in one. Tapas are vibrant with spices and heartened by fresh ingredients. Puffy croquetas de hongo are a must; served in groups of three mini breaded croquettes bursting with wild mushroom cream on top of a bed of mashed sweet plantain paste.
An authentic Latin influenced restaurant has to have a plantain specialty dish and Agozar! has it. Eso!! Plantains are one of those things you have to try at least once in your life if you haven’t yet. This being “Nuevo-Cubano”, Agozar! presents an ingenious version of the traditional tostones (fried plantains), the rellenitos. For this delicacy, the fried plantain is stuffed with a spicy avocado mousse and cream, that again sits on top of a sweet plantain paste, which balances out all the essences.
If you feel like “lechonear un poco más” (pig out a bit more,) go for the proteins. The meat tapas offer a range of options, from traditional Spanish chorizo, to camarones al ajillo (garlic shrimp) immersed in double garlic sauce, to pinchitos ( three types of meat on skewers, sizzling out of the skillet, accompanied by dipping sauces). Beware that if you really want to, you could keep eating more amazing small dishes, since during happy hour each of these plates goes for around $3.50. Therefore, here is a bonus recommendation, the mariquitas. A great filler to go with drinks and a good conversation; mariquitas are long strips of plantain chips with avocado puree and black bean hummus for dipping.
Agozar!’s flavorsome food and specialty mojitos confirmed to be the perfect combo scenario to share that quality time in the middle of the week with friends. However, what topped it all for me at this spot, were its friendly owners Gerardo and Diana Perez (also brother and sister). Amazingly accommodating with each person and group and special occasions. Their mission is to be as welcoming and accomodating as going to your parents’ house for supper, keeping the hospitality tradition of Latin American culture alive.
Now, tomorrow, e-mail, text or call your friends to meet up at Agozar! “to have a good time” after work and break that ugly, wintery routine!! Enjoy! And remember, there are different kinds of happy hours. But, there is no way that you can beat the value of the happy hour that includes great food!
Address: 324 Bowery, New York, NY 10012 near Bleecker St 212-677-6773
Happy Hour: Daily, 5pm-8pm; buy one get one free for tapas and specialty drinks.
Prices: starting at $3.50 per tapa during happy hour.