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 $15, you get $30 worth of Cuban cuisine and drinks at Mambo’s Cuban Bistro in Jacksonville Beach.
Mambo’s imports Caribbean flavors with a menu of authentic Cuban fare served alongside tropical tunes, live entertainment, and dancing. Ravenous maws can start their southbound culinary journey with fried yucca ($4.50) or the special tostones, five green-plantain foundations supporting mountains of shredded beef and molten mozzarella, shrimp, or guava-drenched pulled pork ($8.99). Sharp incisors can hone their shark-attack techniques on the filete de tilapia a la camaronera, a shrimp-covered tilapia fillet swimming in creole sauce ($15.95). Packed with more fresh greens than a rabbit's grocery list, the roasted-veggies wrap sates hungry herbivores with a veritable cornucopia of squash, zucchini, peppers, and onions coated in three-cheese asian mayo ($7.99). Finally, plunge overheated tongues into a cooling caramel flan ($3.50) or a sweet serving of tres leches cake ($4.99).
Eclectic esophagi will revel in the specialty-drink menu at Mambo’s. Take revenge on thirst with the Payback—a piquant, sweet, and tart margarita made from blended kiwi fruit, chili, and Patrón Silver ($10)—or quaff a classic mojito, the traditional mint-infused potation made with Bacardi Superior rum ($7.50).
Cocina Latin American Fusion
At Cocina Latin American Fusion, sweet flavors tickle the tongue just as often as fiery ones cause it to tingle. Fruit-based marinades flavor several meats, such as grilled jumbo shrimp in house lime sauce, a guava barbecue-glazed pork chop, and mango chicken, which is prepared by finding and cracking open a perfectly egg-shaped mango. The menu derives its dishes from several countries—paella entrees evoke the tastes of Spain, for example, whereas a chili-dusted sirloin steak boasts a Cuban mojo sauce. Regardless of their origins, each seafood, chicken, and beef specialty pairs well with sides of sweet plantains. And on Sundays, patrons can intersperse bites of brunch plates with chilled sips of Morisonado, a mix of orange juice, milk, and cinnamon.
The live entertainment on weekends mirrors the diversity of the restaurant's cuisine. On Fridays, Latin jazz lilts through the space. Saturdays feature piano performances, and guitarists take the stage on Sundays to strum Spanish tunes.