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 Cuba de Ayer in Burtonsville, Maryland. Choose between the following options:
For $12, you get $25 worth of Cuban dinner fare, served Tuesday–Friday from 3 p.m. to close and all day on Saturday and Sunday.
For $7, you get $14 worth of Cuban lunch fare, served Tuesday–Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Adorned with island-evoking art, the vibrant red and black décor at Cuba de Ayer evokes the Caribbean nation in its heyday and complements the rich, traditional flavors of its menu of classic Cuban dishes. Diners eagerly tuck into the slow-roasted eye round of a boliche platter, the tender meat marco-poloing in a sofrito-based gravy of tomatoes, onions, and garlic ($8.50 for lunch; $13.99 for dinner) or they can opt to admire the lechon asado, traditional roast pork soaked in citrusy marinade and dressed in a Fauntleroy suit of onions ($8.50 for lunch; $13.99 for dinner). Prices used reflect most recent menu.
The complex and fragrant picadillo sautés juicy ground beef with briny green olives, sweet raisins, and tender minced potatoes ($8.50 for lunch; $12.99 for dinner), and a cavalcade of classic hot cubano sandwiches ($7–$7.75) satisfies the cutlery averse with an array of fresh, flaky bread-based meals. The restaurant’s tasty fruit-juice bar spurs nostalgia for a favorite juice-stained white linen suit with the fresh squeezings from tropical offerings including rich mangos or sweet guavas ($2.65), and stronger sips can be had by strapping on some ice-cube bandoliers and ordering up a frosty Cuba Libre ($5.95), a cocktail made famous by Ernest Hemmingway’s favorite neighbor, Madrigol.
Cuba de Ayer Restaurant
Cuba de Ayer Restaurant owners Jessica and William Rodriguez ensure their dishes demonstrate what the Washingtonian dubbed "the mandate of the Cuban restaurant: The food should never be too fine or too fussy." Their menu lets the traditional food speak for itself, from the marinated pork that arrives draped in sautéed onions to the hearty black beans and rice that accompany thinly-sliced steaks.
Steaming plates load tables inside the cozy dining room, which sports rich oxblood walls decorated with colorful artwork. Guests relax in snug booths with cups of café con leche and sweet tres leches cakes, a decadent alternative to glasses of milk.