Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hoboken Road Trip Part 1: La Isla

For some time now this culinary haven in New Jersey has been beckoning to the NYC DinerDivas, who were waiting only for better weather before venturing across the waters to the haunts of Hoboken. Finally on Friday the skies were clear and the temperature was neither too warm nor too cold, so the Divas met early in the morning at the 34th Street PATH station for a reverse commute across the Hudson.

First in the plans was breakfast at La Isla at 104 Washington Street, and at 9:00 a.m., when we arrived, it was throbbing with a Latin beat and a lively breakfast crowd. Luckily, there was still a spot for us in the narrow, 36-seat restaurant. We ordered coffee (black for Diva1, iced for Diva2) and sat back to peruse the menu. It was a difficult decision for Diva1, whose response to every choice was "Oh yeah, I want that!" Diva2 was better prepared: she had come specifically for the Stuffed French Toast, the chef's award-winning original creation, and only hoped that it was not sold out. Our luck held: it was available.

This is the concoction that won a Bobby Flay Throwdown on The Food Network. Ingredients include guava, strawberries, cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, almonds ... the question was, could it really taste as heavenly as it sounds? Diva2's blissful sigh at first bite provided the answer. Diva1 begged a bite, and heartily concurred.

In fact, Diva1 now looked at her Huevos Rancheros and wondered whatever had possessed her not to simply duplicate Diva2's order for herself. She took another sip of coffee (strong, with real body, but with not so much as a hint of bitterness), scooped up a spoonful of the rice (delicious), then had her answer in a mouthful of poached egg with spicy tomato sauce. This breakfast was a revelation for Diva1: how the various parts of a dish can meld into one yet retain their own distinct flavors.

So here's the La Isla verdict from Diva1: the service is friendly and efficient, the ambience is cheerful and lively, and the food is a delight for the taste buds. Even the price is right: not cheap, but not wallet-busting, either, especially considering the high level of care taken to prepare and serve these culinary gems.

Makes a DinerDiva want to swear off Diner food altogether and become ... egads! ... a foodie.

No, no, no, especially when you can get food as wonderful as this in this place with its honest-to-goodness down-to-earth real Diner vibe.

The Divas shall definitely return here to further explore Chef Omar's delicious take on Cuban cuisine!

La Isla on Urbanspoon

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