It's packed full with locals, resembles a fortress on the outside and a very basic bare bones, mom and pop style shoppe with a dining area, a cafe walk up area and a bakery. The main dialect is espanol but don't worry, the host and servers have a limited understanding of English and can definitely point you in the right direction.
Operative word was it's packed... prepare to wait for a table outside in the crowd of Cubans. I am with my friend Kevin and we both stick out like sore thumbs as we're the only asians in the crowd waiting amongst the locals shouting in spanish. We wait for around 15 minutes for our table of two to be available and led in curtly.
We are famished but don't really know where to begin. It's a sensory overload of traditional cuban cuisine and I immediately gravitate towards my favorites - plantains, camerones, yuca fritters, cerviche, picadillo, ropa vieja and the list goes on...
Alas Kevin buckles me down and refocuses me to just order conservatively as the portions are enough for us. I immediately need to quench my thirst on a mojito and it did not disappoint as it wasn't too sweet! I'll have to come back and try the sangria sometime!
We order a plate of empanadas- they come flaky and delicious, home made out of the bakery. The creamy ham empanada was salty and delicious and my selected favourite. The creamy spinach was good (Kev's fave) and the chicken had peppers mixed in to the shredded chicken to give it some tang.
The bread that was brought to our table was what i would coin local cuban garlic bread - basic white baguette with garlic oil toasted and flavorful and we definitely enjoyed it.
We ordered the traditional platters for our mains. One was "the classic" which came with rice, black beans, picadillo (spices ground meat), roast pork, tostones and the picadillo over the rice was so flavourful and delightful.
The other main had my other favourite dish- a sampling of the Ropa Vieja. This is shredded beef simmered in a tomato-based sauce with vegetables served. On any given day, the ropa vieja should be juicy and tender and I think it was a bit dry for us which was slightly disappointing.
We don't finish our mains but they were amazing left overs.
I have been reading that I need to come back and try their coffee bar - Line up with the cubanos and get yourself the best tasting coffee in Miami. Get the leche evaporada for the more authentic flavor. Say "hola, cortadita por favor" and they'll start talking to you in spanish.
I did come back to the bakery to order some empanadas for my flight home and they satisiated me the entire plane ride back to Toronto.... one, two, three, four.. uno, dos, tres, quatrooo...
*** 1/2 stars
3555 SW 8th St
Miami, FL 33135
By Jacqueline Vong at 10:52 PM