BY CLAIRE McCURDY
I decided to take my Swedish anthropologist friends to a new restaurant in my own neighborhood, Inwood, in northern Manhattan. – Mamajuana, a Dominican buffet style place has a very good local reputation. This second time was the charm. The conversation sparkled and so did the mimosas!
The name MamaJuana comes from a potent Dominican cocktail, of wood shavings and roots steeped in alcohol and honey. Mamajuana, especially noted as an aphrodisiac, is reputed to cure everything from a toothache to a backache. Not really a breakfast drink, so sadly we did not get a chance to savor this interesting brew. But the all you can drink mimosas were a pretty good substitute.
I was much struck by MamaJuana’s decorative properties (the bottled brew, not the restaurant). The restaurant’s Spanish style décor, all twisted wrought iron and dark wood, was set off by bottles of the roots, and by Christmas globes and tinsel. Not your typical decorator motif.. It’s doubtless unique, at least for the New York City location- (the other MamaJuanas are in Florida and in the DR itself.) The effect is both festive and mysterious.
It’s a good thing I made reservations. We got there at noon sharp on a Sunday and had our pick of tables; by 1:00 the place was packed out. Enticing aromas assailed us as we made our way to the table. And the price was right too. The buffet was approx. $18.00, all you can eat, complementing the all you can drink mimosas.
Although for a long while we were the only Anglos in the place, which sometimes makes for linguistic confusion, the service was fast, competent and friendly. Excellent coffee and the mimosas just kept on coming.
The buffet featured a combination of Latino specialties such as rice and black beans and deep fried platanos and steak, and basic American breakfast fare such as French toast and bacon. And crossover stuff like home fries. To be followed by green salad. And fruit salad or fresh grapes or muffins or brownies for dessert. This was not a low cholesterol spot, but both the chic and emaciated and the hearty eater could put together a very good meal.
We were happy diners, pleased to be having a fine Sunday brunch, satisfied with our food, and with good value for our money.
In short, we had a wonderful time! Mamajuana was a smash!
Go, and get the brunch!
As we left, a young blonde couple asked us if we could direct them to Papasito’s. We said, no, but try Mamajuana and the $18.00 pris fixe. They yelled “yeah!” and disappeared promptly inside.