As a native New Jerseyan, I’m extremely picky about my diners. If doesn’t have that shiny silver exterior, or if the waitstaff doesn’t consist of grandmas with hairnets or trashy ladies with caked-on makeup, I will probably not even consider going inside. This time around, however, I made an exception: Coppelia.
Described as a Cuban diner, Chelsea’s Coppelia is open 24 hours, meaning you can get quality empanadas and arepas at any time of the day. Breakfast. Midnight snack. Anytime! It’s really more of an “upscale” diner, with prices in a slightly higher range, but for the presentation and taste, it’s definitely worth it. Sure, there are definitely other places in the area where you can get decent late night Latin food, however, this is not your average Mexican food truck style cuisine.
The place does have some stylish diner elements, and also a nice full bar for cute cocktails with quirky names like “Guayabera” (consisting of gin and guava juice, $10) and they also have a “Margarita Cubana,” which takes a normal margarita but makes things a little more interesting with some jalapeño syrup and a spiced rim. I’m pretty sure that Cuban margaritas aren’t an authentic thing, but I’ll take one anyway.
For starters, I was already sold at the chicharrón de calamar ($9.95), calamari encrusted in blue cornmeal and served with pico de gallo, plantains, and tamarind vinaigrette – a different and extremely delicious take on your standard calamari starter.
Entrées were pretty hard to choose (the menu wasn’t as extensive as the regular American diner, but there were a ton of options) but we settled on a stack of chicken empanadas ($2.25 each) and an arepa ($7.95). The empanadas came with a beef picadillo sauce and were met with high praises – the arepa (which was really two small arepas) was basically tiny sandwiches stuffed with chipotle chicken that kept spilling out the sandwich and onto the plate, which I shamelessly scooped up and ate anyway. Yum. Seriously.
Next up, mac and chicharrón ($9.95) is a definite contender – macaroni and cheese is already my weakness, but with some crispy pork belly in there? I want to eat everything on this menu (and I probably will). All other aspects of Coppelia are pretty straight – the waitstaff is friendly, the décor is cute, and the worst complaint I saw on Yelp was that “their napkins are too linty.” Considering napkins are supposed to get dirty, I think I can let this one slide.
There’s nothing like late-night drunk pizza, gyros, or cheese fries, but with Coppelia around, it’s nice to know there’s another option.
207 West 14th St
New York, NY