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Zeemanb

KC- Cafe Cuba in Westport

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(If I'm NOT the first to report, merge as necessary....)

In desperate need of affordable eats for four people after we got done viewing The Dead Sea Scrolls last night, I blindsided Judy-moosnsqrl with a phone call asking for ideas between Union Station and the Plaza (I was DESPERATE to avoid getting stuck taking out of towners to dinner on the Plaza). We decided that Café Cuba at 41st and Broadway sounded like the best option. We arrived to find the owner sitting out front, and as we approached he jumped up and said “you’ll never regret it!”. From there he took us to the counter to sample various dishes as we decided what to order. The permanent menu is made up primarily of various sandwiches, but the majority of the food is listed on dry-erase boards behind the counter. There were four of us….my girlfriend, her brother, his fiancé and myself, so we ordered a lot of different things and constantly chatted with the owner, who was over the top friendly and helpful. It’s a real family affair in there. We were the only diners, but lots of people, young and old, were coming and going from the kitchen and having coffee together at one of the tables. There’s just a good overall vibe, we had a blast.

I don’t think anything on the menu costs more than $7.50, with many side dishes in the $1.50-$2.00 range. It is counter service only, Styrofoam plates, plasticware, Spanish television, yada yada.

The dishes we tried were:

Fried plaintains- don’t have a lot of recent experience with them....very good, sweet, served room temperature. Apparently much different than their tostones...made from younger plantains?

Yuca (sp?)- I have not enjoyed this in the past because of the thick, waxy texture, but this was very enjoyable…cooked in lots of garlic and onion.

Ropa Vieja- the group favorite…slow cooked and shredded spicy beef

Chicharos (can’t remember the exact name, NOT “chicharones” but similar)- basically a split pea soup with bits of pork in it. Probably my favorite dish of the evening. Simple, but a ton of flavor.

Cuban sandwich- a great rendition….extremely thin Cuban bread, tons of meat. The sliced pork was especially good. In fact next time I’ll probably just try the pork sandwich.

Tamales- pretty large with a much sweeter masa than I have had before. Also, very lean cubes of pork inside instead of the usual shredded/chopped variety. I like tamales too much to say how good they were, I’ve never had a truly “bad” tamale in my life.

Ribs- these were great, and I’m assuming they were the “sweet and sour ribs” listed up on the board. Not overly sweet or sour in my opinion, but definitely marinated in some sort of a sweeter mixture and slow cooked. Texturally similar to good bbq, but a much different flavor.

Desserts- more than you’d expect to see actually…six or seven varieties of pastries that I’m assuming are made in-house judging by the rustic/homemade look of them. They were out of the tres leches cake, so we grabbed a couple of fruit tarts, with the guava being the stand-out. At one point the owner came out and handed us pieces of sticky candy/pastry to share and offered five dollars to whoever could guess the main ingredient. Chewy, firm, grainy, lots of sugar and cinnamon....nobody got the five bucks because we guessed everything BUT sweet potato. If it’s a common Cuban dessert ingredient, my bad. My Cuban cuisine experience is limited to sandwiches and coffee.

Speaking of coffee, someone brought a tray of those tiny cups of Cuban coffee out to the family members/friends and served us some as well. GREAT stuff, flavor on top of flavor. A real jolt.

As the mega-retailers and chains continue to encroach upon the 39th St/Westport/Plaza area, this is exactly the kind of business that deserves your dollars. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a while. Great food prepared and served by people who truly, genuinely wanted you to enjoy it, understand it and talk about it. Granted, this was my one and only visit, but it is absolutely worth a try if you are going to be in the area.

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First of all -- whew! -- glad I didn't give you a bum steer.

Thanks for the report. As I told you on the phone, I have been trying to get down there for weeks but life has gotten in the way. I will certainly blow-off the next long, lost out-of-town friend and get myself down there soon.

I still lament the demise of Relish (the previous tenant and a friend, David Rabinowitz) and hope that we (collectively) are able to support this newcomer.


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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First of all -- whew! -- glad I didn't give you a bum steer.

Thanks for the report.  As I told you on the phone, I have been trying to get down there for weeks but life has gotten in the way.  I will certainly blow-off the next long, lost out-of-town friend and get myself down there soon.

I still lament the demise of Relish (the previous tenant and a friend, David Rabinowitz) and hope that we (collectively) are able to support this newcomer.

I will meet you there in a couple of weeks, my treat. After spending a lot of time in Tampa and in the upper Keys, I can be critical of what some people try to put out as Cuban. Did they have a medianoche sandwich on the menu? Did they say where they got their cuban bread from for the sandwiches? Was the sandwich pressed? Now I do have a reason to get back up that way. No chance of anything remotely cuban in this area. And I love Cuban. My favorite sandwich place when I lived in Tampa was the Silver Ring in Ybor City. That and the Spanish Bean soup from the Columbia. I will pm and let you know. Now I am hungry and I just finished dinner.


It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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A mi me gustan mariquitas con un Llaves tan frio.


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Did they have a medianoche sandwich on the menu?  Did they say where they got their cuban bread from for the sandwiches?  Was the sandwich pressed?  Now I do have a reason to get back up that way.  No chance of anything remotely cuban in this area.  And I love Cuban.  My favorite sandwich place when I lived in Tampa was the Silver Ring in Ybor City.  That and the Spanish Bean soup from the Columbia.  I will pm and let you know.  Now I am hungry and I just finished dinner.

Didn't even think to ask about the bread, but the sandwiches we got were indeed pressed. They have a variety of very un-Cuban sandwiches, but they do have a medianoche sandwich that is listed as having sliced pork, ham and swiss cheese on a sweet bread. A couple of others that sound good... the Pan con Bistec (steak sandwich with onions, tomatoes and lettuce w/Cuban fries on Cuban bread), Jamon de Pierna (bolo ham sandwich with melted swiss cheese on Cuban bread), and the Croqueta Preparada (ham, pork, swiss cheese, pickles and croquettes on Cuban bread).

Quick question for anyone.....is serving the sanwiches on top of small pile of shoestring fries (the canned kind) typical of Cuban cuisine? They were more of a garnish than a side.

Looking forward to getting back there......

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Did they have a medianoche sandwich on the menu?  Did they say where they got their cuban bread from for the sandwiches?  Was the sandwich pressed?   Now I do have a reason to get back up that way.  No chance of anything remotely cuban in this area.  And I love Cuban.  My favorite sandwich place when I lived in Tampa was the Silver Ring in Ybor City.  That and the Spanish Bean soup from the Columbia.  I will pm and let you know.  Now I am hungry and I just finished dinner.

Didn't even think to ask about the bread, but the sandwiches we got were indeed pressed. They have a variety of very un-Cuban sandwiches, but they do have a medianoche sandwich that is listed as having sliced pork, ham and swiss cheese on a sweet bread. A couple of others that sound good... the Pan con Bistec (steak sandwich with onions, tomatoes and lettuce w/Cuban fries on Cuban bread), Jamon de Pierna (bolo ham sandwich with melted swiss cheese on Cuban bread), and the Croqueta Preparada (ham, pork, swiss cheese, pickles and croquettes on Cuban bread).

Quick question for anyone.....is serving the sanwiches on top of small pile of shoestring fries (the canned kind) typical of Cuban cuisine? They were more of a garnish than a side.

Looking forward to getting back there......

I have never seen any Cuban restaurant use potato sticks. Maybe that is what they are doing instead of potato chips. Personally, I am not very fond of potato sticks. They are way too greasy and mostly stale. But I still want to check the place out, maybe for lunch one day.


It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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We stopped at Cafe Cuba today for a quick lunch. We shared the pork sandwich, we was just that, pork on cuban bread, grilled and pressed, and a cuban. Both were very good, but large. We brought half home. After conversing with the owner about the food, he gave us a very generous sample of Imperial rice. It was a turmeric yellow casserole sort of thing with lots of different meats and cheese. It was wonderful. We're going back when we're more hungry or with more people so we can try a variety of things. There were 8 or 9 other people dining, all but 2 were Cuban. I like to try some of the fruit drinks. The pork was really, really good.

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Quick question for anyone.....is serving the sanwiches on top of small pile of shoestring fries (the canned kind) typical of Cuban cuisine?  They were more of a garnish than a side. 

I have never seen any Cuban restaurant use potato sticks. Maybe that is what they are doing instead of potato chips. Personally, I am not very fond of potato sticks...

Me neither.

Thanks for the report Zeemanb! Yes, you are the first to report, and I'm happy you did. I had heard hesitations from other, but I'm glad you enjoyed it!


Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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As much as we enjoyed the food, some people will have issues with the service. Our food was served in the bottom of a styrofoam to go clamshell, with the top ripped off. Disinterested teenage girls took our orders and delivered them to our table. But what the heck, they were very young, working very hard and were not rude.

Everything was disposable as Zeemanb stated, but in a very odd sort of way. I've eaten at lots of small, independently owned places around the country (alas, not out of the country!) but I've never been served food in deconstructed to go boxes. It wasn't a big deal to me, but it will be to many potential customers. Maybe as time goes on they can upgrade the styrofoam to match the food. It was quite enjoyable. The owner was so generous with samples and explanations of their menu. The pork was great, simply roasted, but extremely flavorful. The atmosphere on Sunday could be described as lively and loud. We liked it. People should give it a try.


Edited by maftoul (log)

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As much as we enjoyed the food, some people will have issues with the service. Our food was served in the bottom of a styrofoam to go clamshell, with the top ripped off. Disinterested teenage girls took our orders and delivered them to our table. But what the heck, they were very young, working very hard and were not rude.

Everything was disposable as Zeemanb stated, but in a very odd sort of way. I've eaten at lots of small, independently owned places around the country (alas, not out of the country!) but I've never been served food in deconstructed to go boxes. It wasn't a big deal to me, but it will be to many potential customers. Maybe as time goes on they can upgrade the styrofoam to match the food. It was quite enjoyable. The owner was so generous with samples and explanations of their menu. The pork was great, simply roasted, but extremely flavorful. The atmosphere on Sunday could be described as lively and loud. We liked it. People should give it a try.

As long as it was all eco-friendly (which it doesn't sound like it was), I won't complain.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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