Reviewer Tricia Childress of Creative Loafing is rooting for the success of Las Palmas Restaurant. “Why do I want Las Palmas to stick? I could say culinary diversity is essential and we all benefit from this quirky, melting pot, Colombian-Cuban, simple and straightforward concept,” she muses. “My palate, though, would say their Cuban sandwich rocks.” After purchasing this primarily Colombian eatery, Cuba native George Escobar decided to draw diners in with familiar Coombian steaks and sauces while shaking things up with rich Cuban dishes of pork and plantains. The bilingual staff doles out ceviche and pork frittatas amid faux shutters and decorative cigars in the 45-seat eatery as two overhead TVs showcase soccer matches or broadcast cryptic clues about where to find the legendary gold-stuffed empanada.
At Mambo Grill & Tapas, precise preparation is just as essential to the bar's mojitos as it is to the kitchen's slow-cooked pork. The staff rejects premade sour mix in favor of their own tangy formula, and squeezes the lime juice onsite instead of simply shopping for lemonade and dyeing it green. The resulting citrusy sips pair well with the venue's Cuban entrees. From plantains stuffed with picadillo—ground beef, veggies, and potatoes cooked in housemade tomato sauce—to hand-cut beef fillets and pan-seared salmon, these dishes display a mastery of the balance between spice and sauce.