Though they’re working 2,500 miles from Havana, Chan Chan Cafe Cubano’s chefs trim small sidewalk tables with sweet and spicy dishes inspired by the laidback eateries of the tropical capital. Shareable small plates of tapa capricho accent sweet plantains with black-bean sauce at small sidewalk tables or in front of an indoor accent wall bathed with the orange and purple shades of a Caribbean sunset or an oompa loompa after a fistfight. Shared sustenance makes way for personal servings of the corderdo borracho’s grass-fed lamb slowly simmered in beer, rosemary, and Michel spices.
The azure-blue sea and palm-tree-lined beach on El Nuevo Frutilandia's rustic painted sign hint at the Caribbean cuisine served inside. A modest menu highlights multiple courses of Cuban and Puerto Rican dishes, including meatless options such as mofongo vegetariano, a classic dish of fried plantains smashed together with olive oil and garlic. Pork is featured throughout the menu, whether roasted and sliced alongside ham and cheese in the Cuban sandwich, or fried as chops with a spritz of lemon and crown of onions.
El Pollo Supremo satisfies all appetites with its eclectic menu of Latin American fare. The bill of fare blends Cuban congri––beans and rice–– fried plantains, and Mexican burritos and tortas with a meal that deliciously unites all climes and cultures: charbroiled chicken, served with tortillas and homemade sauce.
Cuban herbs and citrus juices marinate slow-roasted pork, one of the many traditional Cuban dishes found on the menu at Habana Cuba. The cooks also fry omelets filled with plantains or potatoes, stuff avocados with marinated shrimp, and craft gluten-free items such as rib eye topped with onions. Bartenders complement meals with specialty cocktails, beers from all over the world, and imported coconut sodas made from the liquid that coconuts naturally excrete when placed next to a shipwreck survivor. Feasts unfold on Habana Cuba’s dog-friendly outdoor patio or within its two-level restaurant, which hosts private sit-down dinners for up to 70 guests.
Caña Cuban Parlor celebrates Cuban heritage with live music, mojitos, and Cuban food made with local produce and meat. Their signature dishes include the Cuban sandwich, as well as flatbreads topped with paprika-dusted chicken and prawns sauteed in garlic-rum sauce. Pairs can share a couple of empanadas to stave off hunger before a hearty entree of slow-roasted pork with yucca-potato mash, Angus steak ropa vieja, or zesty eggplant-garbanzo bean stew. Dinner is served inside a lively, industrial-chic dining room, anchored by a curved white bar where staffers grind real caña, or sugarcane, to make glazes, syrups, and tinctures for their rum cocktails.
Slow-Cooked Cuban Cuisine | Acclaimed Oxtail | Pitchers of Sangria | Brazilian Influences | Outdoor Patio
When to Go: Head here during lunchtime, when the restaurant buzzes with energy and popular dishes, such as the roast pork and shredded beef, are served at a discounted rate.
The Chef: Los Cubanos Restaurant is not only Alcides Calvo's 17th restaurant, but it's also the passion project that pulled him out of retirement. Calvo opened his first eatery in Cuba at the age of 17. When he immigrated to the United States in 1970, he brought his native flavors with him, opening Cuban restaurants in LA and then San Jose.
While You're Waiting
Inside Tip: Although meat is certainly the star at Los Cubanos Restaurant, vegetarian options do exist. The vegetarian tamale, for instance, stuffs steamed veggies and yucca into a corn shell.
While You're in the Neighborhood: After your lunch or dinner, sip a microbrewed pilsner at Los Gatos Brewing Co. (163 W. Santa Clara Street)