Tina’s Enters the Cuban Food Battle, as Sophie’s Takes Two Steps Back- 4 Steps Forward

Fans of the latin food chain Sophie’s Cuban might have noticed something strange about two of their three Midtown locations.  The branches of Sophie’s that were located on 56th btw. 5+6th and on Madison btw. 33+34th, are now called Tina’s Restaurant.  Both storefronts still have the same menu, and what appears to be the same food… only now they are called Tina’s instead of Sophie’s.

According to a Sophie’s rep:

“Sophie’s has been a family operated business for over ten years in Manhattan. There arose a difference of opinion about how to operate the business among the family members operating Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine restaurants. Sophie’s management believes that outstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value to our guests are the most important elements of our business. Tina’s is no longer associated with Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine.”

Based on that quote, you would think the issue was one of standards, but according to one of the employees at Tina’s it had more to do with franchising fees, and the fact that the members of the family who own the two Tina’s locations just didn’t want to pay them.  The owner of Tina’s didn’t return my calls.

Still, Sophie’s soldiers on with their franchising.  Finally, some news on the 40th St. location- plus a new food court location, after the jump…

The Sophie’s website has finally been updated to say that the location on 40th St. btw. 7+8th (which has been under construction for a year) will open on March 1st, but like all Midtown dates, it’s tentative.  Either way, the grand opening will be a free food day, just like the grand opening of the 56th St. location.  Their rep also told me, in addition to the new 23rd St. location, and new downtown Fulton St. location, there will also be a food court location added sometime soon on 3rd Ave. in Midtown- although he wouldn’t disclose which food court.  (My money is on this oneUpdate:  According to a commenter there is some action in the Pampano Taqueria food court on 3rd Ave., so it may be that one as well…)

The interesting thing about the Sophie’s “family” is that they are originally from Peru.  They started serving Cuban food at their business because they thought it would be more popular.  At this point, with so much Cuban food in Midtown, I think we’re ready for some Peruvian food!  Are you listening Tina???

Tina’s Restaurant, 179 Madison Ave. (btw. 33+34th), 212-679-3500

Tina’s Restaurant, 23 w. 56th St. (btw. 5+6th), 212-315-4313


  • If Sophie’s really wants to make money they’d bottle and sell that Green sauce. If not for that, their food is relatively bland and middle of the road. The Green sauce makes it tick.

  • My guess for the food court is the one with pampano taqueria in it. I say this because I was down there on Monday and a new brightly colored restaurant was under construction right next Pampano. Not having gone to any of the sophies or tina’s or whatever they are called, I don’t know if it was set up the same way, but it looked like a long steam table was there. Anyways just my guess.

  • The cashier at the midtown east Sophie’s refused to give me extra green sauce unless I tipped her a dollar! It was worth it, but annoying.
    Vishal – that green sauce is great but fairly standard. Pio Pio, a peruvian franchise w/ several locations, serves a huge cup of green sauce at every table. Don’t think they have a midtown location though.

  • i used to be a huge fan of the madison ave/33rd st sophie’s, it was close to my old job and a decent sit-down place. the chicken sandwich doused in green sauce was pretty consistent, and they did fruit shakes (though some seemed powdered). i made the mistake of going to the 56th st. location just once — and it was completely different. the food wasn’t nearly as tasty, the shake sucked, service took forever, and i believe we were overcharged. never went back… since margon’s is equal distance from my office now, there’s really no need to settle for that place. but i had no idea they were both tina-owned, though… that certainly makes the differences in service more interesting.

  • There’s no Pio Pio, but there is a Tio Pio rotisserie chicken place on 36th near 5th Ave. that I’ve been meaning to check out. I’m guessing it’s similar…

  • ohhh, pio pio riko in sunnyside rocks my rotiserrie chicken-loving world…

  • Pio Pio..tio pio ping pong.

    I never did watch star trek NG.

  • went there today. table service. steak/onions, rice/beans, tostones, mango shake. all delicious.

  • There’s a new Pio Pio at 210 East 34th street.

    I like the Pernil at Sophie’s better than Margon (where they use an obscene amount of salt). And I never had to tip for extra green sauce. They had a shaky reopening after the water main break, though.

  • Thanks for the tip, jacksonH. I just hit the UWS Pio Pio for the first time a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it.

    Also, agree with you that Sophie’s pernil is tops.

    However, have you been to Sophie’s Midtown East and asked for extra green sauce recently?

  • Green sauce is good for sexy time! Anybody want make sexy time with me with green sauce?

  • Sophie’s food is bland at times, that’s why I prefer Margon. It’s certainly more genuine Latin food.

  • After the name changing of sophies to tinas the service have been great the food spectacular…I love it for the options they have on how i get to choose two side dishes everytime i go get a meal..My favorite is grill chicken over yellow rice & salad..by the way thanx for adding those new ingredients on the salad.. Recomendations to fellow reader’s go ahead and TRY IT!

  • where is the location on 23rd street?

  • they need to stop being cheap motherfuckers and hand over the full cup of green sauce when i ask for it after i order 100 dollars of food. they didnt even give me my damn empanadas after i paid for them.


  • This place rocks- it’s near my school and the food is excellent. Going back tonight- I don’t know anything about this green sauce- but I’ll have to ask about it.
    Note to Moderator: please filter imbeciles from posting messages on this thing

  • GREEN SAUCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sophie’s and Tina’s have the best Cuban food in the city. I always order the shredded beef stew and have ordered it several other places and nothing compares to them! Especially when you consider their meals are $9.00 with 2 sides and I spent $27 for just the stew at another place that wasn’t as good.

  • I have been going to Sophie’s/ Tina’s on madison & 34th, since it 1st opened. I’ve never encountered a problem until today. We were kicked out b/4 we were finished our meal & beverages. The waitress said that our lunch could only be 20 minutes max.
    Not sure if the waitress was new, but I never had her serve us. I was there with a couple of my friends & one of them a 1st timer. It was quite embarrassing.
    We then requested to speak to the manager. Who in our opinion, did not have the communication skills to be a manager. He then directed us to the supposed owner, who just turned out to be another manager. She wouldn’t give us the owners contact info and pretty much yes’d us to death.
    There isn’t any signs indicating that we need to eat within 20 minutes. And frankly, how do they expect us to eat a large latino meal within that time? We were very disappointed :(
    Not even McDonalds kicks you out b/4 you are finished!

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