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Thread: Cuban Restaurants

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    Default Cuban Restaurants

    As a fan of authentic Cuban cuisine (having visited Havana 10 times), is Little Havana worth a visit or am I better off sticking to De Rodriguez and Asia de Cuba (Mondrian)....I have yet to find a Cuban restaurant in the States that wows me, which surprises me given the greater accessibility to more resources. If Little Havana restaurants are nada de particular, is the area still worth visiting or not really.
    RR33139 likes this.

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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    I'd scrap the pursuit.

    What you're getting at the Mondrian is probably the same crap you get at Bongos.

    I'm not an expert on Cuban Cuisine but what probably distinguishes it from the fungible potpourri of Latin flavors is the Cuban Sandwich and the Ropa Vieja.

    Skip Mondrian and hit Puerto Sagua on 7th & Collins when you get a chance. It doesn't get more complicated than that.

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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    Unless you can speak fluent Spanish and look Cuban, I'd skip visiting Little Havana and stay in the touristy areas with their Cuban restaurants. I don't know if Little H even has tourist restaurants. Plus it's not the best of areas to visit.

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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    sounds good....I'll look for my Cuban Coffee ( I recall someone said on this forum Whole Foods or Publix has some good Americanized Cuban Coffee for sale, as does a lunch place/cafe in SoFi) and be the one in the Yankee hat smoking the Cohiba (legitimate one) walking around SoBe for the month of May.

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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    sounds good....I'll look for my Cuban Coffee ( I recall someone said on this forum Whole Foods or Publix has some good Americanized Cuban Coffee for sale, as does a lunch place/cafe in SoFi, and Puerto Sagua) and be the one in the Yankee hat smoking the Cohiba (legitimate one) walking around SoBe for the month of May.

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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    You should angle and pursue a Colombian " fritanga" instead.

    In all honesty, they've been ruling Miami since Cocaine Cowboys.

    Ditch the Frita and the Estaban's. The Cuban thing is a mirage.

    Today's news is that there is a condom shortage in Cuba. They've been short on staples for 50 years.

    Go elsewhere.

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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    Asia de Cuba has been closed for a while now. Like, a WHILE.

    Havana 1957 in SoBe is my main rec now for traditional Cuban food. It's good, but not doused in lard like at Puerto Sagua. D-Rod is fantastic, but modern Cuban. A phenomenal restaurant but not at all what you'd find in Havana.

    LH doesn't really have a lot of great Cuban spots since most of the Cubans have left that area for Kendall, Hialeah and other places. Versailles would be the only one of note. The neighborhood is worth visiting because it's so unique and unlike anything else you'll see in the US. But its doable in an afternoon.

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    Senior Member Blackford Oakes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Meltzer View Post
    Asia de Cuba has been closed for a while now. Like, a WHILE.

    Havana 1957 in SoBe is my main rec now for traditional Cuban food. It's good, but not doused in lard like at Puerto Sagua. D-Rod is fantastic, but modern Cuban. A phenomenal restaurant but not at all what you'd find in Havana.

    LH doesn't really have a lot of great Cuban spots since most of the Cubans have left that area for Kendall, Hialeah and other places. Versailles would be the only one of note. The neighborhood is worth visiting because it's so unique and unlike anything else you'll see in the US. But its doable in an afternoon.

    Going east on Sunset Blvd till it turns to Caesar Chavez and a bit past downtown is like an exact replica of Little Havana, only with Mexican hues. Only difference is you can buy a Corona pińata on every corner.

    I personally don't get the fascination with Little Havana aside when the bee-hive get's antsy.

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    Cool Re: Cuban Restaurants

    Lately, have been checking out all the different Cuban Restaurants in Miami Beach.

    Last night after watching a foreign movie at the M.B. Cinematheque, had dinner at the "Polo Norte" (North Pole) Restaurant, and expected for it to be a "tourist trap." It was not, it was much better than I expected! Had the Lobster Cream Soup and a Cuban Sandwich, one of the better ones I have had. My only (minor) issue is that they served me the bowl (BIG) instead of the cup of soup. Don't know if you need to be bilingual to get good service, as other monolingual guests have complained about, but not a problem with me. Will return here to try one of their main dishes.

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    Puerto Sagua? Was disappointed, maybe because it was a very busy night, sat at the counter. Not bad, but not very good either.

    Bella Cuba - Not bad, better than Puerto Sagua. Ice Cold "Hatuey" Beer. Nice "ambiente," more secluded - even romantic - nice place to take a date, a group of older german tourists seemed to be enjoying themselves.

    Las Olas Café - If you want tasty, homestyle food at very reasonable prices, don't care for "ambiente" and don't drink alcohol, (can't recall if they have beer in their coolers, but no "foo-foo" fruity $$$ mojitos nor wine available here) you can't go wrong here. No menus posted, but you can pick and choose whatever is on the steam table. Cuban Sandwiches are $4.90 and a plate of food, (had the Picadillo, Maduros, White Rice and Black Beans) will cost you $7.90, plus tax. A can of soda is only 90 ˘ plus tax. Staff are Honduran ladies, they call you "Mi Amor" and "Mi Vida"...cute...Only limitation is that they close early, 8:00 PM M-Sat., 3:00 PM on Sundays, also only have a handful of tables, food is served on styrofoam plates and cups. Many people come here for takeout. Only half a block off Washington.

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    David's Café - After 37 years, closed on Easter Sunday

    Next on my list is Abuela's Cuban Kitchen. Yuca is an elegant, but pricey establishment, on Lincoln Road serving "Cuban Confusion" or Cuban-inspired Cuisine. Not authentic. Cuban food should be inexpensive and filling. Havana 1957 - Pricey, as expected of any place on Espanola Way.

    My favorites so far are: Polo Norte and Las Olas Café (if you know the limitations)
    Last edited by RR33139; 05-02-2014 at 01:27 PM.

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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    Nice review.

    I not big on Cuban food aside the Cuban Sandwich- Tampa Style. if you don't get a table at Puerto Sagua, you're bound to get fries with what ever you order and it's not the same. I'd rather just get the toast at David's.

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    Cool Re: Cuban Restaurants

    UPDATE:

    Went to Abuela's Cuban Kitchen, and it was very good with BIG portions! While looking for a late night snack, I made the mistake of going to the restaurant, (not the café next door) which has the nicest ambiente with tablecloths, background music, soft lighting and art works on the walls. I didn't see any Cuban Sandwiches on the restaurant menu, however these are readily available next door), so ordered the Vaca Frita with Tostones and Yuca Con Mojo. Very tasty and portions were generous.

    My litmus test for authenticity and quality: order a Cuban Sandwich and a cup of Black bean Soup. If these pass, you can assume the rest of the cuisine should also be good.

    The café and sidewalk counter are is open 24 hours.

    On my way back, looked at the menu at Havana 1957 on Lincoln Road, and the Cuban Sandwiches there are $15 (almost $19 with tax & tip). Pricey.

    Favorites: Abuela's Cuban Kitchen, Polo Norte and Las Olas Café (mostly for take out, not a place to take a date)
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    Last edited by RR33139; 05-07-2014 at 02:06 PM.

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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    Thanks, RR. Food-wise (price not a factor) how would you say Abuela's stacks up?

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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    Matt: Food-wise Abuela's is as good as Polo Norte, I would put Abuela's at the same level as Versailles, but with a smaller menu. I need to get back to you as to how large the portion sizes are at the latter, because only had a Cuban Sandwich and a bowl of soup while at Polo's. As you saw, Abuela's has generous - very much so - portions, as any homestyle place should offer. I couldn't finish my food and had plenty of leftovers to take home. Las Olas Café is mostly for takeout, has no menus. Am unsure of how much English the Honduran staff speaks, but have seen non-Spanish speakers walking in and ordering. You will have to peek and point as to what you want, but is no problem as they have it all on steam tables.

    If you're looking for a dining experience, or out on a date or want to impress someone, skip Las Olas and go to the restaurant side (not the counter area) of Abuela's, or perhaps even "Yuca" (never been here) if you can afford it. It only has about four small tables, crowded together, restroom within easy sight of diners, accepts cash only, (but they do have an ATM) no tablecloths, no music, no mojitos, no ambiente, all food is served on styrofoam and plastic cutlery. Closes at 3:00 PM on Sundays, 8:00 PM rest of the week. But if you're on a tight budget, are adventuresome and none of what I mentioned bothers you, can't go wrong with Las Olas.

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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Meltzer View Post
    Thanks, RR. Food-wise (price not a factor) how would you say Abuela's stacks up?
    Pretty good, but lately, have been dining at the Diner Counter, instead of the restaurant. Prices somewhat lower at the counter, in exchange for less atmosphere.

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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    Quote Originally Posted by RR33139 View Post
    Lately, have been checking out all the different Cuban Restaurants in Miami Beach.

    Last night after watching a foreign movie at the M.B. Cinematheque, had dinner at the "Polo Norte" (North Pole) Restaurant, and expected for it to be a "tourist trap." It was not, it was much better than I expected! Had the Lobster Cream Soup and a Cuban Sandwich, one of the better ones I have had. My only (minor) issue is that they served me the bowl (BIG) instead of the cup of soup. Don't know if you need to be bilingual to get good service, as other monolingual guests have complained about, but not a problem with me. Will return here to try one of their main dishes.

    Name:  Cuban Sandwich, Polo Norte.jpg
Views: 1383
Size:  182.2 KB


    Puerto Sagua? Was disappointed, maybe because it was a very busy night, sat at the counter. Not bad, but not very good either.

    Bella Cuba - Not bad, better than Puerto Sagua. Ice Cold "Hatuey" Beer. Nice "ambiente," more secluded - even romantic - nice place to take a date, a group of older german tourists seemed to be enjoying themselves.

    Las Olas Café - If you want tasty, homestyle food at very reasonable prices, don't care for "ambiente" and don't drink alcohol, (can't recall if they have beer in their coolers, but no "foo-foo" fruity $$$ mojitos nor wine available here) you can't go wrong here. No menus posted, but you can pick and choose whatever is on the steam table. Cuban Sandwiches are $4.90 and a plate of food, (had the Picadillo, Maduros, White Rice and Black Beans) will cost you $7.90, plus tax. A can of soda is only 90 ˘ plus tax. Staff are Honduran ladies, they call you "Mi Amor" and "Mi Vida"...cute...Only limitation is that they close early, 8:00 PM M-Sat., 3:00 PM on Sundays, also only have a handful of tables, food is served on styrofoam plates and cups. Many people come here for takeout. Only half a block off Washington.

    Name:  Las Olas Cafe, Picadillo, Maduros, Frijoles Negros.jpg
Views: 1519
Size:  220.9 KB

    David's Café - After 37 years, closed on Easter Sunday

    Next on my list is Abuela's Cuban Kitchen. Yuca is an elegant, but pricey establishment, on Lincoln Road serving "Cuban Confusion" or Cuban-inspired Cuisine. Not authentic. Cuban food should be inexpensive and filling. Havana 1957 - Pricey, as expected of any place on Lincoln Road and Espańola Way.

    My favorites so far are: Polo Norte and Las Olas Café (if you know the limitations)
    UPDATE: Polo Norte is now called, Habanos. Quality seems to be unchanged, according to the reviews. My favorites would be: Abuela's Cuban Kitchen (the diner counter, the restaurant if you're looking for a fancier atmosphere, and for your neighborhood hole-in-the-wall, Las Olas Café

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    Atmosphere is overrated

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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    Which Pola Norte? there are a few listed on Yelp

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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    Sorting thru this, am a bit confused. Seek an authentic Cuban dining experience, think slightly Anthony Bourdain. We are staying in South Beach without a car. Thanks!! It's his b day and we are big foodies. Oh, I don't eat meat so fish only...he eats anything!

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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    Well....ok. You want authentic you're not beating Puerta Sagua, though I don't know that I'd recommend the seafood. You could also try Abuela's kitchen on Lincoln Road. Those would be the only two I'd call "authentic" that aren't disgusting cafeterias on Washington.

    Havana 1957 and De Rodriguez Cuba on Ocean are both great, but not at all what I'd call "authentic."

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    Default Re: Cuban Restaurants

    Off Topic: How is Tap Tap for Haitian cuisine for lunch?

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