I ABSOLUTELY fell in love with this place when celebrating a birthday dinner the first time we were here!
Sure, it’s not for everyone as it’s loud, crazy packed, the music is pumpin’, and the regulars up here look like a stereotype of every 1970′s Huggy Bear pimp caricature or modern day rap video guy and gal. The men are crowding the bar up front sporting their best fur coats while checking out the fine ladies dressed to the nines in their best leopard wear and incredibly high heels and hair extensions. The music is loud with jammin’ tunes that went everywhere from 80′s freestyle, to smooth r&b, to Biggie and Tupac, then to current rap hits, and back to old school Sugar Hill Gang and KRS-One. You can’t help but move to the great music and want to dance when eating dinner here. Ricardo’s is an epic scene that you get sucked into, and happy to go along for the delicious ride!
Definitely not a steakhouse to take mom and dad to when they are in town!
What you will not get here is a quiet reserved dinner. What you will get is a delicious meal full of fun and amazing service. We called to try for a reservation late in the day as we were recovering from the previous night’s festivities and was told it was just walk-ins at that point. We had heard some of the horror stories about the wait times here and they were totally true. When we arrived around 7:30 the place was packed and already jumping! We were told it would be an hour wait and since we were already up in Harlem we decided to stay and hold out hope that a table would open up quicker. As we live in Yorkville on the UES this place is fairly close to us with a quick cab ride so it was no big deal. After only about 15 minutes the hostess got us a table but it was too close to the crowded bar area in a high traffic zone and I quickly nixed that. She was way cool and totally understood. I was amazed how she kept control of the crowd and was on top of the hoarde of people that kept coming in non-stop all with a super sweet demeanor.
Oh, and a round of free shots while we were waiting at the bar was a pleasant surprise!
Another 15 minutes went by and she waved us over to a table in the main dining room. We ended up getting a perfect table for two and were greeted by our waiter Bernard who quickly took our drink orders. They have assorted flavored sangria and we went for a pitcher of raspberry to start off, and another server came by and placed a basket of garlic bread on the table. Holy moley – this stuff is the crack of garlic bread! It’s more like texas toast with seasonings and butter. Just awesome. So good we ate the first basket and asked for another. Hey, I have no shame – it was my B-Day!
Looking over the menu we noticed a diverse variety of steaks, seafood, and pastas. We kept viewing different plates walk by and being placed on tables. It was nuts as everything looked great. The food is cooked up in an open kitchen style up front surrounded by the bar, so you can see and smell all the action. We decided to go with a few salads to start and both had house dressings on them that were really flavorful without being overbearing. One was an avocado salad and the other was a Ricardo salad with feta cheese, black olives and diced tomatoes. As we were getting buzzed off the sangria having some food in us helped as we were salivating for the main plates.
We went with the filet mignon and a special of the day for me – the porterhouse for one with grilled shrimp, mashed potatoes, and baby string beans covered with garlic and onions. The filet came with garlic spinach. Oh myyyyy! Both steaks were cooked perfectly pink in the middle. The filet had a house gravy on it that was killer, and the porterhouse was marinated and covered in delicious spices. Mouth watering for sure! Both plates were huge! I had to also get a side of sweet plantains and they were utterly awesome. I could not believe how good the food at Ricardo’s is, and now wonder why we had not come here sooner. The prices are right for a steak place and the amount of food you get here is ridiculous. Even the plating of the food is wonderful. We were stuffed after finishing these dishes, and yes, finish them off we did. Burp!
Oh, I almost forgot, one of the hostesses came around with a tray full of shots and gave one to everyone who was eating dinner. Free shots again? Bonus!
You don’t think we would skip dessert did you? We chose the chocolate covered strawberries dusted with cinnamon and whipped cream, and the hot molten chocolate cake with house made vanilla ice cream. Wow! At this point we were about to burst. Our waiter Bernard came over with a lit candle in my dessert while 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” blasted over head. Go shawty – it’s your birthday!
I have to say the service here is impeccable. We were constantly being taken care of by a very attentive wait staff. It seems as if everyone who works here is very friendly and outgoing. Totally on-point. The owners have created a hip, urban environment where the people of “El Barrio” as this part of town is known as, to enjoy a terrific meal with friends and family, savor a good drink, or just come on a date and have a good time.
Oh yes, we will be back. I need to party with a steak again!