Cuban-born owners George and Zulima Chavez evoke a latin villa with faux window arches, iron sconces, and elaborate murals of ivy scored doors and old-world brick. Amid these rustic trappings, waiters deliver traditional Cuban platters of salmon a la plancha, Spanish sausage sandwiches, and flame-kissed NY choice-cut steaks. While munching on fried plantain chips at the granite-top bar, patrons can peruse the framed artwork of the Cuban countryside and roosters setting their alarm clocks.
Having trained with chefs throughout the world's top exporter of samba melodies and top importer of World Cups, chef-owner Ana Davis has brought her passion for her native cuisine home to Café do Brasil. Whether they appear for lunch, dinner, or weekend brunch, visitors may marinate their teeth in the company of shrimp, tilapia, scallops, and Cuervo tequila sauce with the martine ceviche ($8.95) before settling into the ham-and-turkey cultural exchange hosted by the Brasillian mufalleta sandwich ($8.25). Dinner bell first-responders, meanwhile, can try the Brazilian national dish of feijoada, an alluring stew of beans, sausage, and pork that is cooked by repeatedly shouting "Goool!" at it for minutes at a time, then served with collard greens and roasted ground yucca ($19.95). The kitchen sweetens departures with the marachoco-mouse de maracuja, which intertwines flavors of passion fruit and chocolate mousse in a loving, dancerly embrace ($5.75). Café do Brasil's culinary alchemists also conjure a number of vegetarian and gluten-free dishes.
A colorful chalkboard sits on the sidewalk outside the cheerful Havana Delights Cafe, announcing the day's Cuban specialties in bright chalk letters. When guests enter the sunlit eatery, they are hit with a rush of savory aromas—roasting pork, sizzling spanish sausage, and grilling steak. Chefs layer these fresh meats onto freshly baked cuban bread before adding a smear of cream cheese or a touch of mayo.
Ramon Sr. and Sinarah Hernandez opened this colorful Cuban café more than 30 years ago after fleeing Cuba. Luckily, they didn’t have to leave everything behind. Their mouth-watering family recipes have garnered bouquets of praise from publications including Weekly Planet and Tampa Bay Magazine. Today, the shop continues to churn out favorites from the original 1979 menu including Pipo’s famous pork wrap piled high with roasted pork, Spanish rice, and fried plantains. Part of the secret to their sandwiches’ success lies in the breads that are baked fresh every day, and the cornucopia of vegetables that are plucked fresh from the farm or holodeck. Customers can order house specialties a la carte, or graze at a fully stocked buffet. Pipo’s doles out its heaping portions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and hosts lives entertainment on the weekends.
The aroma of roasting pork and simmering mojo sauce wafts through La Teresita’s dining room, weaving past hanging tropical plants and a trellised ceiling. Back in the kitchen, chefs plate traditional Cuban dishes, ladling yellow rice and grilled onions onto succulent cuts of beef and layering pork or palomilla steak between slices of toasted bread. Dining companions can cap meals with classic Caribbean sweets such as flan, guava shells filled with cream cheese, or the edible chocolate cigars that Cuba is so famous for.