The tamales at Danals Mexican Restaurant are so popular that some regulars place bulk orders days in advance. But the tender, husk-wrapped snacks aren't the only reason to visit this 25-year-old Irving eatery. The restaurant's cooks are experts when it comes to crafting Michoacan-style carnitas, seafood ceviches, and other Mexican staples. Specialty margaritas and micheladas pair beautifully with each fresh, piquant dish, and desserts such as flan give folks a way to get rid of the bitter taste that comes from saying "Beetlejuice" three times. To nail down the authenticity, brightly colored walls and murals line the restaurant's interior, creating a colorful, happy ambience.
The chefs of Adobo Puerto Rican Cafe prepare a menu of traditional specialties, crafting hearty beef, chicken, and seafood entrees that evoke the feeling of dining on Puerto Rico’s sunny shores. The selection of dishes incorporates ingredients such as green and yellow plantains, which can be served mashed beside fried pork and yuca, stuffed with ground beef, or loaded into a slingshot and flung into a flying pet falcon’s beak.
Havana Social Club caters to smoke-savvy shoppers with a wide selection of fine cigars within an intimate, elegant lounge. Globe-traveling smokers can inhale their way through Latin America with rare stogies from Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, browsing high-end brands such as Ashton, Padron, Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, and Arturo Fuente ($10–$30) in search of the perfect tobacco tube. An in-house Cuban master cigar roller whips up fresh custom blends, and the knowledgeable staff aids puff-happy patrons in procuring their ideal smokable. Havana Social Club's Cuban lounge atmosphere encourages exhalation celebrations, and is peppered with leather-upholstered armchairs, dark wooden accents, private humidor lockers, and No Smoking signs.
The team at Cuco's Sandwich Shop harnesses classic Cuban recipes to craft a convoy of authentic pressed sandwiches, which have been featured in the Star-Telegram and on the local restaurant blog Regular Joe's Guide. Among soft pink walls and tiled floors, a family of chefs accessorizes the meaty handhelds with traditional sides, such as plantains and yuca croquettes. Additionally, a smattering of breakfast burritos and sandwiches tackles morning cravings more swiftly than a football team playing pigskin against pigs in a blanket.
Caribe Cafe's chefs describe their classic Cuban cooking style as a fusion technique, combining methods and recipes from Spain and Africa with the ingredients of the Caribbean. Nothing exemplifies this combination better than oxtails with white rice and beans, a staple of island diets for years. The chefs, though, particularly specialize in sandwich making, incorporating spiced chicken or slow-cooked pork into sandwiches layered with cooked onions and mojito sauce.