With its ever-changing coordinates and conspicuous absence from the Beach Boys' "Kokomo," Cuba is one of the more difficult to locate Caribbean nations. Dig into this enigma with a fork, knife, and today's Groupon to Cafe Piquet in Bellaire. Choose between two options:
•For $10, you get $20 worth of Cuban fare for lunch or dinner.
•For $75, you get $150 worth of off-site catering.
Named Best Cuban Restaurant in 2009 by the Houston Press, Cafe Piquet creolizes a menu of classic, authentic Cuban cuisine with contemporary influences. Amid the restaurant's dark wood tables and café-au-lait walls, diners can dig into platters such as the pechuga de pollo a la plancha, a grilled chicken breast dressed in a savory shawl of grilled onions; fried, ripe plantains; and a two-toned ascot of rice and beans ($10.50). Wrap mitts around the swiss cheese, ham, and pork of el super cubano sandwich ($11.95) or the pan con bistec, an enormous steak sandwich sprinkled with crispy potato sticks like the confetti at a steer's birthday party ($7.50).
Accommodating service professionals cater formal and casual events with equal aplomb, turning small family gatherings or group interviews into delectable shindigs. Wrangle three-dozen mini papas-rellenas ($38.97) to the appetizer table to preface a septet of cuban sandwiches ($41.65). Some package deals feed up to 15 people, such as the ropa vieja, a tangle of shredded beef in tomato and wine sauce ($179.25). All options bring black beans and rice as well as sweet plantains or yuca with garlic sauce along to the party, helping them feel less alone in an unfamiliar setting and ensuring that someone will laugh at their jokes.
Though the imperial Doric columns inside Cafe Piquet aren't indicative of the cuisine's origins, the pictures and artifacts on the walls—which range from movie-star portraits to framed bills of currency—all pay homage to Cuba. The authentic decor echoes the traditional recipes in the family-owned kitchen. There, chefs layer swiss cheese, ham, pork, mustard, and pickles onto medianoche sandwiches that helped the restaurant win the 2009 Houston Press award for Best Cuban Restaurant. The paper deemed the sandwiches "easily the best in the city," and commented on the menu’s knack for drawing crowds of native Cubans with its recipes.
Those recipes include plates of grilled red snapper, pork chops, and sirloin steak that arrive with sides of plantains and yucca, imbued with flavor from garlic and creole sauces. After devouring the dishes, full visitors who have become sleepy can conclude meals with cups of cuban coffee.
5757 Bissonnet Street
Bellaire, Texas 77401