Though it's only a couple hundred miles from the United States, most Americans never get to go to Cuba to experience its lively culture and flavorful food. So Julio Ortiz, who was born and raised in Havana, decided to bring it to them with his eatery, Twisted Cuban Cafe & Bar.
Guests there dine on Twisted's most popular dish, lechon asado (roast pork) served with moro rice and yuca, as well as cuban sandwiches and other traditional Cuban dishes made from Ortiz's mother's recipes. These recipes rely on spices and cooking techniques from Spain, Africa, and the Caribbean islands, and often include plantains and rice and beans.
On warm days and nights, Twisted's outdoor patio is a great place to dig into these specialities, sip a Cuban mojito, and eavesdrop on birds' cell-phone conversations.
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When to Go: Paseo is a popular choice with visitors and locals alike, and the line tends to stretch out the door. Try going during a weekday to avoid the rush.
Where to Sit: The restaurant’s Fremont location houses a few small tables in a cozy dining room, while the Ballard outpost is a walk-up stand with a few outdoor stools and picnic tables.
Awards and Acclaim
While You’re Waiting: Salsa music and other live Latin performances set the tone in this teeny, lively cafe. Don’t be surprised to see tables pushed aside to create a dance floor—and be ready for a server, bartender, or other friendly staff member to ask you to join them.
Caipirinha: a Brazilian cocktail made with the sugarcane-based spirit cachaca and lime juice.
Plantain: very popular in Caribbean dishes, these starchy fruits are a slightly larger cousin of the banana and must be cooked before serving.
Tostones: fried slices of unripe plantain; a common side dish in Latin America.