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: for $10, you get $20 worth of authentic Cuban cuisine and drinks at El Oriental de Cuba in Jamaica Plain.
El Oriental de Cuba's chefs sling out selections from an extensive menu of authentic Cuban dishes, painting palates with citrusy and savory flavors. Gear up taste buds with mofongo—mashed green plantains, pork rinds, and garlic sauce ($7.95)—before donning upper lips with juice mustaches from the marinated roast pork, ham, and swiss cheese that populate the cuban sandwich ($7.95). The red snapper swims in a garlic sauce ($13.95), and cooked-to-order steak and onions ($11.95) team up to fill stomachs with robust tastes. After a meal, mouth caves can freshen up with a deluge of papaya, guava, tamarind, or horchata in a tropical shake ($3), or fuel up body tanks without chewing lightning by slamming down premium-grade shots of cuban espresso ($1.50).
El Oriental de Cuba
A commitment to traditional Latin flavors is the number-one priority at El Oriental de Cuba, though the kitchen staff isn't afraid to add a touch of New England flair. These bold combinations have been lauded by both local culinary and cultural institutions. Through a large, open window, diners watch as haddock is prepared spicy, garlicky, or coated in a coconut sauce, and lobster is stuffed into empanadas. In creating other dishes, the cooks reach for ingredients such as plantains, yucca, and pigeon peas, and slow-cook their meats to transport minds to Caribbean sunsets.
Though the atmosphere may be casual, the decor in the dining area isn't without touches of refinement. Sage-green walls surround the long space, whose high, peaked ceiling supports hanging lamps and fans. As guests bite into classic cuban sandwiches and fried pork chops, they gaze at colorful paintings and photographs of children playing in the old country.