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Feb 20, 2000 02:12 PM

Palo Alto Find -- Cuban

  • s

Happened to find this place when I passed by and was drawn to the sound of the piped-out Cuban music...

I had these appetizers (as copied from their menu):
SEARED AHI TUNA: house spice, mango salsa, wasabi
YUCA AND PLANTAIN CHIPS: black bean salsa
BAY SPINACH: with Asian pear, endive, candied walnuts, shallot vinaigrette

Every dish was a superb blend of ingredients that made me wish I could eat still more than half of the generous servings... I didn't even want to drink water several hours later, lest I dilute the scintilla of flavor I was still savoring.

Hey, maybe I'll go back for lunch... if I drink the rum first, I might get up the nerve to try the oyster shooter. :)

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  1. sounds like a real good find, susan, thanks for the report.


    6 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff
      Susan M. Thomas

      Not expensive at all for the three dishes I had, which ranged from $5-8 each... dinner entrees are mostly from $8-20, exceptions being the lobster and a dish for two.

      1. re: Susan M. Thomas
        Frank G. O'Mahony

        Can I echo Susan's enthusiasm about Bodeguita and add a "cheers" for their Mojita? This rum/mint concoction tastes great and is a perfect aperitif while propping up the restaurant's great bar deciding which delicious entree to choose. btw, Bodeguita's only other branch is in downtown Havana.

        1. re: Frank G. O'Mahony
          Frank G. O'Mahony

          Across the road from La Bodeguita on California Avenue is Bistro Elan. It's got a great, relaxed, neighborhood french restaurant feel. The kitchen's right there, the service is impeccable (sp.?) and the wine list is excellent. It's not the cheapest place - I rarely get out of there for less than $80 for two. But then I always go there when The Company is paying ;-}

      2. re: Jim Leff

        Hi Jimmy, I wandered into this place last month with my brother to repay him for resuscitating my Powerbook. Maybe all the talk about little Elian was a subliminal suggestion for trying a cuban restaurant (not many choices out here). Loved the mojito - boy that goes down easy! My appetizer of empanadas were out of this world. The other dishes weren't quite as ethereal but were also very good, and well priced. Oddly both my brother's appetizer and main were undersalted when I tried them. He was recovering from the flu and had thought his tastebuds were off. But the addition of some salt brought them back up to form. The servings are huge - an appetizer, entree and shared dessert is too much food. I'd go back there again and explore the appetizer menu more fully. I didn't order any wine but found the list fairly priced with a few adventurous selections to boot.

        Also want to mention that I grabbed a sack lunch at La Palma in the Mission to take to a meeting in the South Bay. The sight of those homefried potato chips lured my colleague from his Weight Watcher's diet off the wagon!

        - melanie

        1. re: melanie wong

          "Also want to mention that I grabbThe sight of those homefried potato chips lured my colleague from his Weight Watcher's diet off the wagon!"

          what an inspirational, uplifting story!

          How was lunch, though? I consider La Palma Mexicatessen to be one of the most important culinary spots in the whole Bay Area. Check out the link below for info (sorry to link to the same article in two consecutive postings, but it's important!)


          1. re: Jim Leff

            My mission at La Palma was to pick up a torta (sandwich) for lunch. However, at 10am the bread delivery hadn't arrived yet and I settled for the ol' standby, the pupusa revuelta (blend of delicately spiced pork, beans & cheese) with cabbage garnish and a bag of potato chips. The chips seem to vary with the season, I guess depending on the type of potatoes available. This is the higher sugar content season and the chips are very golden, crackly crisp and sweeter now.

            Another tip about La Palma - last fall I hosted a vertical tasting of Riojas from Muga with a meal of typical dishes from La rioja alta. I needed some membrillo (quince paste) for a tapa, and being put off by the $9/lb price at Oakville Thievery, I hoped to find some in the Mission. La Palma sells this in bulk from a small case at the cashier stand, but no price shown. When I asked for a small piece, and even smaller than the clerk indicated, she protested. I soon understood when I saw that she was only charging me $1.25 for a small log! They make their own membrillo here - it doesn't have as much artificial red food coloring (which I consider a plus), is a bit grainier, but more fruity and natural in sweetness than the imported product.

            While I do like the gordita style tacos at La Palma, I think my favorite tacos in the area come from the truck a few blocks away on Harrison street. Sorry the name escapes me at the moment.

            - melanie

      3. la bodeguita is a great little place, and how lucky we are to have it in palo alto on california street, where there isn't too much else.

        i echo everyone's sentiments that the mojito is excellent, perfect on a hot sunny day with a little breeze blowing through. the mint makes it work.

        beware the oyster shooter unless you are well versed in the dangers of habanero. i had a relapse of the habanero burger from the prince of wales pub in san mateo after i drank the shooter, and it was not a pleasant relapse, believe me. for those of you who don't know, the habanero burger is the hottest burger in the country, and i'm not arguing (they make you sign a medical waiver before eating, and as chowhound's attorney, i can appreciate that). :-)

        take care, and let's keep up the word on palo alto finds. i'm a new york transplant, so this place is frustrating to me at times. glad to know there are other chowhounds in the area.

        oh, i did find a great little korean fast food take out lunch spot in the town and country mall, hidden in some corner call some kind of place. it's family run, and you can tell the couple who run it wake up early and cook up everything themselves, or at least most of it. you basically get a choice of 3 items from the many that are on display. a starch, a meat, and a side dish, like kimchi (which was quite good when i had it).

        unfortunately, because of the setup, they have to reheat the meat by nuking it in a microwave, but hell, to have decent korean lunch in the neighborhood i consider a blessing. oh yeah, and did i mention it's cheap? about 7 bucks including a drink. awesome. take care.