Friday January 19, 2007

“Considering Miami’s predominance of Cuban immigrants, it’s astonishing that truly wonderful, home-style, traditional Cuban meals are rare here.” But Pamela Robin Brandt found Las Delicias Restaurant to be to her satisfaction.

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  1. Alex    Fri Jan 19, 08:42 AM #  

    Home style, traditional Cuban abounds. You just have to look off the beaten path. There are tonsof little cafeterias, many open just for lunch, that serve great Cuban food. You know the type: the owner is standing behind the counter, making cuban sandwiches, while his wife is in the kitchen. There was one such place around Doral eons ago. Another one, sort of famous, is Nena’s around Bird Road and Douglas. Nena is 90 something and still cooks.

  2. Tere    Fri Jan 19, 09:27 AM #  

    True, true, true.

    Also, “truly wonderful, home-style, traditional Cuban meals” abound in homes across the county. I think when you visit the regional center of any particular kind of cuisine, the restaurants fall short of what the locals cook at home.

    Hhhmmmm… so maybe I should take advantage of my new big(ger) kitchen and turn my house into a paladar... :-p

  3. alesh    Fri Jan 19, 09:45 AM #  

    Alex~ I realize, and I was hoping this would set off a list of such places. Thanks for starting it. More??

    Get-together at Tere’s with Cuban cooking!!

  4. Alex    Fri Jan 19, 10:24 AM #  

    I wish I remembered what was the name of the Doral place. “pepe” something, like “Don pepe” perhaps. It was really good. They’ll wheel out two caja chinas every Friday, very early, and by lunch time the special would be roasted pork -you wouldn’t believe the line out of the door. I wonder if they are still around.

    Up where I live, there’s a place called Havana Vieja (Biscayne and 130something), it’s pretty good. But it’s kind of fancy, so it doesn’t qualify as a joint.

  5. Alex    Fri Jan 19, 11:20 AM #  

    Another place I personally love is “El palacio de los jugos” Flagler and 57 ave. Best chicharrones and freshly squeezed fruit juice. The food is buffet style, but so good.

    BTW, a mexican friend of mine, pure “chilango” swears that the best tacos in Miami are to be found saturday mornings at some carts parked alongside 37 avenue, by the athletic fields just before Bird. Not Cuban food of course, but a find nonetheless.

  6. Tere    Fri Jan 19, 11:31 AM #  

    Alex, the one on Biscayne and like 129 is Little Havana – it IS really good, but yeah, not a joint.

    Another good hole in the wall: Riviera Super Market on NW 17 Ave and 17 St. It’s been a good long while since I’ve been there, and I think you can only buy the meals to go, but their pork? TO DIE FOR.

  7. Yvette    Fri Jan 19, 12:20 PM #  

    Oh, happy day! I moved to Miami in 1978 and have never had Cuban food. Isn’t that sad?

    For years, I have been asking my hispanic friends where to go for an authentic Cuban meal, and most people shrug and say, “Oh, there have to be restaurants everywhere!” without giving me the name of even one.

    How does Versailles compare?

    Does anyone want to have dinner with me, some time next week, pretty please?

  8. shuggy    Fri Jan 19, 12:48 PM #  

    Versailles is for show. Don’t go there for the food.

  9. Manola Blablablanik    Fri Jan 19, 01:02 PM #  

    Sadly, I am too out of the loop to contribute. Plus, a desire to eat healther and of course my love of vegetables doesn’t always make for a decision to go for Cuban. I’ve been consistently disappointed in recent years anytime I’ve gone out for Cuban food, so yes, Yvette, I would love to go on a journey of culinary discovery with you!

    I did however enjoy my palomilla steak at Canela not long ago. This is my new favorite neighborhood-style place. It’s not exactly a joint but it’s small and very cozy. Also, not expensive.

    I chose grilled asparagus and sautéed garlic mushrooms instead of rice and beans, which is a nice alternative. It was delicious. This is a mom-and-pop place. The owners are Cuban, mom cooks, and about half the menu serves Cuban items.

  10. Val Prieto    Fri Jan 19, 01:38 PM #  

    Since the Mrs and I usually have our Cuban food at home, we rarely dine at Cuban restaurants. And most good Cuban restaurants as mentioned above and at Tere’s have one or two dishes in particular that they specialize in. However, there are tons of little hole in the wall cafeterias that usually only serve breakfast and lunch that sometimes have exceptional food.

    For example, El Okay supemarket on NW 27th avenue makes a mean and i mean mean arroz con pollo. There was another place on sw 8th called Las Brisis whose lunch special were incredible.

    Most of these are little dives and ecrtainly not take out on a date kind of places, but if your hungry and its lunchtime and theres a little cafeteria near that has some action, try it, chances are you wont be disappointed.

  11. Rick    Fri Jan 19, 06:14 PM #  

    Back in the late ’80’s I had my wedding reception in a hall above Las Delicias and had the food catered by them. There’s a lot I don’t remember about that evening, including how the food was, but I do remember feeling as if I was the first gringo to have ever walked through those doors.

    A stranger in a strange land, I was.


  12. Manola Blablablanik    Fri Jan 19, 07:48 PM #  

    Rick, that sounds totally surreal!

  13. Roger    Fri Jan 19, 08:15 PM #  

    La Rosa, although not a dive, is hands-down the best Cuban place I have ever been to. They also make my favorite dessert – flan de mamey.

    4041 NW 7th Street
    Miami, FL 33126

  14. alesh    Fri Jan 19, 09:40 PM #  

    Wow, thanks everybody.

    Val, that’s exactly why I get bummed out about working in Broward — places like that are few and far between up there.

    Rick, are you sure it was the same Las Delicias? Supposedly there’s more then one restaurant with that name.

    Manola, I have a policy for foods I consider unhealthy, which is that I’m only allowed to eat them once per calendar month. One hamburger, one serving of pizza (as much as I can stuff in my gullet), etc. Maybe Cuban food once per month? (Although I let myself cheat.)

    Alex, Cuban all-you-can-eat buffets are dangerous places to take me. There’s actually one in Hallandale I used to hit sometimes, and I always ate so much the rest of the day was spent in a miserable food-induced half-coma.

    Also, what is up with Pollo Tropical? Every time I go the parking lot’s full and the line is out the door. I mean, it’s awlright, but . . .

  15. Rick    Fri Jan 19, 10:35 PM #  

    Alesh: would you ever forget having a wedding reception in the heart of Hialeah? Yeah. Me neither. It was the same one.

    M.: actually it was more like a bad dream.

    As far as Pollo goes, I love their food. Tropichop Max, white rice, black beans and chicken and you got yourself a complete meal for under $6.50.

    About those lines. People, for some reason, have a hard time with the menu. I’ve seen people take 5 minutes to order their meal, just for themselves, trying to sub sides and asking how big the portions are. It’s extremely frustrating. And then if it’s a family and there are a couple kids to order for, look out. Everything has to be explained to them as the family stands at the counter ordering. It’s the one downside to eating there.

  16. Manola Blablablanik    Sat Jan 20, 12:26 AM #  

    Alesh, even as a child I always wanted more veggies. My mom thought I was a freak of nature because I was the only kid who wanted to eat her carrots and peas. The problem I have with Cuban as unhealthy is not so much the meat but the heavy emphasis on starch since I have metabolic insulin-resistance issues. The thing is, white rice or yuca isn’t really going to do it for me anyway, as far as flavor is concerned, even if it’s really good. (And I do make an excellent mojo, but it’s all about the mojo, not the yuca.)

    I’d much rather “cheat” on a Pizza Rustica, an expertly prepared risotto or some Bass Ale if you know what I mean. Or, I’d rather have rice and beans as a stand alone meal, preferably with whole grain rice.

  17. Roger    Sat Jan 20, 04:33 PM #  

    I could have sworn I wrote something regarding Las Delicias. Where did it go?

  18. Rick    Sat Jan 20, 05:42 PM #  

    The first time I posted a comment for this thread it disappeared, too. These comments are almost as bad as bloggers.

  19. Alex    Sat Jan 20, 07:25 PM #  

    Nooooo, not in the vastly superior platform Alesh uses? That can’t be.

  20. alesh    Sun Jan 21, 12:42 AM #  

    I know. . . it’s super-difficult. You have to hit the “preview” button. THEN (horrors!) you can’t just close the window . . . you have to hit “submit.” I know that any process that involves more then one step exerts undue hardship on y’all, and I apologize. But try it . . . it beats typing in squiggly and ambiguous letter sequences over and over in hopes of being accepted.

  21. Rick    Sun Jan 21, 01:46 PM #  

    Alesh: it’s happening, what can I say. I mean, you can take our concerns seriously or you can make light of them. Up to you. I could care less either way.

    But there is something going on.

  22. Tere    Mon Jan 22, 09:16 AM #  

    You guys are so great compared to me. I cheat all the time. “I’m exhausted – yay, a little piece of Hershey bar!” “I had a bad fight with Ben – yay, a burger!” “I’m PMSing – yay, everything on the Wendy’s menu!”

    I’ve been VERY bad lately, since I started this new job. It’s thrown me out of whack.

    But you know, I can see how Cuban food falls in that realm for people, but I grew up eating the stuff, and it’s what I cook at home. For me, indulging in “junk” or “bad” food has more to do with fast food places. Kinda like Alesh, I allow myself one bad day a month, where I can eat whatever I want without guilt.

    As for Pollo Trop, I think it has to do with how it’s basically home cooking (or close enough), but it’s quick & cheap. If you have long commutes and get home too late or tired to cook (and I probably just described 70% of the population of Kendall), this is a way to get a meal and not feel like you’re eating crap. My guess, anyway…