The glitz and glamor of pre-revolutionary Havana come alive at Rumba, a lively dinner and dance destination in the old Hubbard Street Grill spot that would make Celia Cruz proud. Inside, an airy private room reminiscent of a Cuban mansion's tearoom sits next to a cozy, discreet chef room, where parties of up to six can witness chef Israel Calderon in culinary action. The main room hosts a bevy of plush maroon booths along its parameter, tables peppered throughout in the middle and a dark-wood full bar islanded in an intimate corner.
Rumba specializes in Latin American fusion dishes, which include remixes of traditional faves like Cuban "ropa vieja," Peruvian-inspired "ceviche trio" and Puerto Rican "arroz con pollo corona." More contemporary offerings include the Argentine "churrasco rumbero," beef tenderloin with sun-dried tomato chimichurri, and the "el pescador," an ocean-heavy combination of Spanish rice, mussels, shrimp, scallops and lobster flambéed in brandy.
But the meal is only part of the appeal. Wednesdays through Saturdays on the main room stage, Rumba makes good on its name by hosting live music running the gamut of Latin sounds, from cha-cha and salsa to Afro-Cuban and jazz. Friday and Saturday at 11 p.m., the main room doubles as a dance floor, where salsa and merengue lovers cut a rug until the wee hours and servers gladly dance with you if requested. Plagued by two left feet? Then take Rumba's complimentary salsa lessons on Friday night from 9-10 p.m.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: M. Cecilia Wong