Tag Archives: Cuban

Cuba Libre ***

cuba libre
10 S. 2nd Street (2nd & Market)
Philadelphia, PA 19106


This past month featured Restaurant Week here in Philadelphia, and I had the opportunity to check out Cuba Libre with a couple of friends. The beauty about restaurant week is that you get to sample multiple courses from a  prix fixe menu at a reduced price. In this case, we were each allowed to choose two appetizers, one entree, and one dessert for $35. But before we even had the opportunity to look at the food menu, we were distracted by the longwinded cocktail list, which includes 14 uniquely flavored mojitos!

Feeling pressured to try at least one of these specialty cocktails, we decide to order the Classic Mojito and sample it amongst the table. The mojito was  fabulous but definitely not something that should be in conjunction with a heavy meal, and so we opted for a pitcher of Red Sangria to drink with our dinner ($37.50 and we got 8 glasses from it). The sangria was good, but nothing extraordinary (it is also not very strong, as 3 full glasses did not get my 100-lb self even remotely tipsy!).

Cuba Libre Red Sangria

But onto the food, which is what we came for in the first place! To start, our server brought us a nice basket of bread with an o-u-t-r-a-g-e-o-u-s mango butter. This light, almost whipped, butter transformed the bread into a sweet french toast-like dessert. Honestly, the flavored butter was probably my favorite item brought to the table all evening. It was memorable and unique.

Cuba Libre Bread and Mango Butter

For my first appetizer, I ordered the Pulpo con Berenjenaswhich is a truffle and citrus marinated baby octopus that is then grilled and served atop a Haitian eggplant salad.  The octopus was cooked perfectly and wasn’t rubbery in the least bit. The flavors were all well-balanced and the portion size was perfect, leaving me wanting one more forkful.

Cuba Libre Octopus

The Eight Hour Guava BBQ Ribs, on the other hand, were not as good as I had hoped they would be. I had high expectations for these “award winning” St. Louis cut pork ribs, glazed in a Guava BBQ Sauce with jicama-Sambal salad, but they were VERY fatty with hardly any meat at all. Very disappointing. Sad face.

Cuba Libre Guava BBQ Ribs

Others at the table ordered the Empanadas stuffed with pulled pork, roasted poblano pepper, and charred tomatoes;


as well as the Sopa de Frijoles Negros, which was sweet rather than spicy; and finally the signature Cuban Tostones, which are twice-fried green plantains with a garlic-mojo dipping sauce. I thought the tostones and mojo sauce were both bland compared to those I’ve had at other Cuban restaurants.

Cuba Libre Tostones

Sensing that the Cuban food not up to par with what I had grown accustomed to in Miami, I decided to deviate from a traditional Cuban dish for my entree. Instead, I ordered El Pollo del Solar, which is a lime-garlic marinated chicken breast with caramelized onions & steamed kale, served with a black bean croqueta and a sweet and sour mango gravy.  Technically, the chicken was cooked perfectly–juicy and succulent, but flavor-wise the dish was really lacking. I didn’t think the chicken was well seasoned, in fact I couldn’t detect any garlic notes and the black bean croqueta was very, very dry. Not even the mango gravy could restore it’s moisture content. The kale on the other hand, was very soft and delicious, as well as the mango gravy that bathed it.

Cuba Libre Pollo del Solar

Everyone else at the table ordered the traditional Arroz Con Pollo, which is saffron-scented rice, combined with boneless chicken thighs, wild mushrooms, green peas, Manzanilla olives and a hard-boiled egg. Garnishing the dish was an asparagus, palacio chorizo, and roasted Piquillo pepper salad, finished with a splash of Estrella Damm beer. The dish was enormous, and had beautiful presentation with the bright yellow color of the saffron, and the contrasting green of the peas and asparagus. I stole a couple of forkfuls from my friend Liz, and enjoyed them thoroughly, although it is not a traditional Cuban Arroz con Pollo. It was much lighter but very tasty in a unique way.

Cuba Libre Arroz con Pollo

For dessert, I (predictably) ordered the Tres Leches de Caramelo, which is a vanilla sponge cake soaked in three-dulce de leche flavored milks with a mocha moose.  I am a tres leches connoisseur, and this one was right up to par.

Cuba Libre Tres Leches

The other dessert that was ordered was the Dulce de Leche Ice Cream. Ice cream is ice cream. It was good!

Cuba Libre Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

Overall, I’m not in a hurry to go back to Cuba Libre for dinner. But, I am very interested in going back for a night of salsa dancing and mojitos (and maybe some bread with mango butter?!?!). Having spent 5 years living in Miami, I got accustomed to traditional Cuban food that was priced insanely cheap. This being said, I find it difficult to spend an exorbitant amount of money on Cuban cuisine that doesn’t satisfy my craving for the classic dishes. The restaurant atmosphere was very cool though and the mojitos are worth the trip.

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Filed under Bars, Buck's County, Cocktails, Dessert, International Restaurants, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Restaurants

Barrio Latino ****

16-oz Churrasco with Chimichurri, Served with White Rice, Black Beans, and Yucca

3585 NE 207 St
Miami, Fl 33180


In just a few short weeks, I will be sipping Malbec and eating churrasco con chimichurri off the coast of Argentina. No, I’m not going on vacation. I am moving there….indefinitely (with Ariana, of course!). We have decided to become career gypsies while the US economy recovers…that sounds like a reasonable excuse, right? In the meantime, however,  I have been getting my churrasco fix at a restaurant right here in Miami, called Barrio Latino. They are located in both Aventura and now near Sunset in Miami, and they serve an outrageously good 16-ounce Churrasco for just $20. My favorite part is their homemade chimichurri sauce, which is a little bit unconventional because of its sweetness, but it is awesome. Included in the price are two sides, choices include: rice and beans, tostones, mashed potatoes, yucca, maduros, french fries, or baked sweet potato. I’ve tried almost all of them by now, and my favorites are the rice and beans, maduros, and baked sweet potato. Just as a disclaimer, the baked sweet potato is enormous…don’t tell me that thing is not genetically modified (see photo).

On days when I am really hungry, I also like to start with an appetizer. I suggest the Mariquitas (fried green plantain chips) with Mojo sauce. Their mojo sauce is as good as their chimichurri, but very strong in garlic…so be careful if you’re on a date!

Fried Green Plantains Chips (Mariquitas) with Mojo Sauce

I also love the Proveoleta Parrillera, which is a thick slice of imported Argentine provolone grilled until slightly melted and then drizzled with olive oil and topped with a roasted tomato. There is nothing better than hot cheese, in my opinion, and this shit is hello good! It is also great to put on top of the mariquitas!

Grilled Provolone Cheese Topped with Oven-Roasted Tomato (Provoleta Parillera)

Another great appetizer that I have tried is the Mollejas Al Limon, which are beef sweetbread grilled with lime juice. I was super hesitant to try these at first because sweetbreads refers to the glands of an animal (nice way to sugar coat the name, right?), but after I got over the fattiness of the texture, I realized that they were pretty delicious. Just make sure that you use a lot of lemon juice to help cut the fat taste.

In addition to the churrasco, I have also had the Vacio, which is a 20 ounce Argentine style Flank Steak also served with chimichurri and your choice of two sides. The Vacio is much thicker and juicer than the churrasco (which is a thin skirt steak), so it all depends what you are in the mood for. I usually prefer the skirt steak.

20-oz Vacio Steak and Chimichurri Served with Baked Sweet Potato, White Rice, and Black Beans

If you really cannot decide though, and you want to try a little bit of everything (or if you’re just obscenely hungry…have no shame), then order the Parrillada Argentina, which is a sizzling hot plate packed with Chorizos (sausages), Vacio, Mollejas al Limon, Morillas (blood sausages), and Churrasco. It also comes with your choice of four sides, and is certainly intended for two people to share. Check out my before and after photos….

La Parillada de Argentina when if was brought to the table…..

La Parillada Argentina when my friend and I were finished with it!

And, if you don’t want to do a full steak, I suggest the Ropa Vieja, which is a Cuban classic with shredded beef stewed in tomato sauce, served over rice with black beans and maduros (sweet plantains). Mix it all together, put a dash of Tabasco on it, and call it a day.

Ropa Vieja Served with White Rice, Black Beans, and Maduros

Love, love, love Barrio Latino. Great food, great prices, great service, and you will leave full. It is often a one meal kind of day for me when I go because I tend to over eat.

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Casa Larios ****

Ropa Vieja served with Black Beans and Rice

5859 SW 73rd Street
South Miami, Fl 33143


Today was the big day—my wisdom teeth have been removed and I have embarked on my depressing all-liquid diet, which equates to a permanent state of “fee-fi-fo-fum.” But even doped up on Percocet, with swollen cheeks that resemble a chipmunk going into hibernation, I still managed to get my butt to the grocery store today. I’m a hardcore foodie. My dinner, consisting of plain vanilla yogurt (no granola, no fresh fruit, no nothing), has left me shockingly unsatisfied and so I’m hoping that blogging about delicious foods might help satiate my hunger!
So let’s talk Cuban food! One of my favorite Cuban restaurants in Miami is called Casa Larios, which is located near Sunset Plaza. I’m usually the only English-speaking Gringa in the place, so its definitely authentic (and slightly intimidating, for me!). Look around the large indoor/outdoor restaurant and you will find tables of both older men and businessmen sitting around and smoking cigars over Corditos. As well as impeccably dressed women (most in pearls and sky high heels) sipping on white wine and gossiping with friends (it seems that no one in Miami works). You will also always undoubtedly find a group of Cuban policemen congregating around the door, drinking coffee and eatingcroquettas. It’s a fun scene for people watching, but the food is also outrageous…in a good way!
I love to start my meal with a basket of Mariquitas and Mojo dipping sauce. For those of you who don’t know, Mariquitas are fried plantain chips and mojo is a delicious blend of garlic, lemon, and vinegar (warning: be careful when consuming on date!). The combination of the sweet plantains with the contrasting acidic garlic sauce is perfection. And although it is not a low-cal appetizer, it’s a totally pleasurable way to consume your calories. Ohhh, and I almost for about the bread that is brought to the table, which is absolutely A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. It is warm, and light, and fluffy on the inside, yet flakey and golden on the outside. Put it this way, there are only two restaurants in Miami where I have been wowed by the bread, and those restaurants are: (1) Le Bouchon in the Grove, and (2) Casa Larios. The bread is really the highlight of the meal for me, and it is brought out in abundance with room-temperature butter packets that practically spread themselves on the heavenly dough. As author Elizabeth Gilbert might say, you need to go to Casa Larios with a “no carb left behind” kind of mentality–this is not the place to be tallying your Weight Watcher’s points!
For my entree, I usually order either the Pechuga La Plancha (simple chicken breast) or theRopa Vieja(shredded beef in a light tomato sauce), which is a special on Mondays. The Ropa Vieja is so incredible in my opinion, because I had never tried anything like it before coming to Miami. The meat is stewed with onions and other herbs in a flavorful tomato-based wine sauce, and then it is shredded to serve. The result is a very tender meat and pleasing rich dish. I put the meat over a mound of white rice and mix in some velvety black beans with a dash of Tabasco….Ooooo, it is so good! And Cubans make the best white rice…the grain is larger than Jasmine rice, which makes it pillowy and then they add butter (which makes everything better) and salt so that the rice has flavor when tasted on its own. It is something that I cannot replicate on my own at home, so I look forward to it every time that I go. The Pechuga La Plancha is a very simple pan seared chicken breast, but they cook it with butter (like everything else at this place) so it tastes like delicious comfort food. I always wondered why my chicken never tasted as good at home, but then I realized that butter was the secret ingredient and I’m too health conscious to prepare mine that way on my own. I always order my chicken with a side of black beans and rice, and usually Maduros too (fried plantains). It is a simple but classic Cuban meal that I have come to love and crave on a weekly basis.
The only thing that I did not like at Casa Larios were the Papas Rellenas , which are stuffed and then fried potatoes. When I ordered them they were brought out below room temperature, which reminded me of like the frozen Costco party appetizers…ewe. I’m pretty sure that they aren’t made to order and it was a bad experience that put me off to them completely. Everything else that I have tried has been great though. Go to Casa Larios…just don’t try to order a Cuabn coffee to blend in if you’re not used to drinking them! Benn there, done that, and I’m pretty sure that it was unleaded. I can actually compare my first Cuban coffee to my first shot of Limoncello…both made hair grow on my chest.

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Filed under Miami Restaurants