Within the tropical green walls of La Parrilla Rotisserie & Grill, cooks caringly squeeze lemon and lime wedges over fresh shrimp and octopus morsels before passing the plates off to servers who run the tangy ceviche to awaiting diners. The cooks then turn toward their flame grill where they flay tender pork to join with juicy whole chickens that they slid off the rotisserie only moments ago. Their traditional Peruvian and Dominican dishes usually hit the table alongside fluffy yellow rice, plantains, and garlic potatoes.
For the Vilarino family, opening a restaurant wasn't just an opportunity to celebrate their Cuban heritage. It was their shot at surviving in America after fleeing the Communist regime of their home country in 1980. And in the 30 years since they opened the first Las Vegas, they've found plenty of success, adding a dozen more locations along the way.
Perhaps it's the authenticity of the food that people have fallen for, as Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine's menu is an ode to classic Cuban recipes. There's a Cuban sandwich, of course, paired with plantain chips, as well as ropa vieja—shredded flank beef that's marinated in garlic, peppers, onions, and bay leaves and topped with a tomato sauce. Even the selection of beverages includes Caribbean-style drinks, such as pineapple soda and cafe con leche.
Bongos Cuban Café is known for its delectable food—the eatery won the Pat LaFrieda award for Best Lechon at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival Swine & Wine Event in 2013. It's also known for its famous mojitos made with fresh mint and sugarcane. At Bongos Cuban Café, the energy of Old Havana pulses through the air with Latin music and aromas of authentic Cuban dishes. Vaca Frita with grilled onions, Ropa Vieja, Arroz con pollo, and Paella with fresh scallops, lobster, chorizo, chicken, and mussels are a few specialties.
It was in La Ceiba, Honduras, that Mario Flores first began associating food with family. His mother would cook for him and his siblings, and the family meals, which set the groundwork for good conversation, provided both a structure to daily life and a sense of comfort. He now hopes to emulate that same atmosphere at his own establishment, Mario's Catalina Restaurant, where he mans the kitchen.
His dishes harken back to old-world Cuba and Spain with appetizers of yucca, sides of fried plantains, and entrees of roast pork cooked in Jack Daniel's whiskey, which is a far more flavorful marinade than Jack Daniel's lukewarm water. His menu also includes "Mario's favorite": a red snapper fillet breaded in green plantains and accompanied by lobster sauce and jumbo shrimp.
Guests enjoy these dishes and a selection of wines and sangria inside the dining room, which, with its wall-to-wall paintings, softly lit lamps, shimmering chandeliers, and close tables, resembles a warm, cozy home.
When you're a regular at Romeu's Cuban Restaurant, you can tell the date by what you're eating. Tuesdays mean beef stew?Wednesdays, chicken fricassee. There's a special menu for every day of the week, complete with different soups and lunchtime sandwiches. But there's a menu of mainstays, too: oxtail, omelets, steaks, and fish?including entire fried snappers, not just the parts that the chef didn't want to eat. The entrees come with the classic Cuban sides of rice, beans, and plantains. And if you'd like something cool and sweet to complement your lamb shanks, try one of the fruit juices. They range from fresh-squeezed orange juice to more obscure drinks like mango nectar and pear juice.