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REAL CUBAN FOOD

I'm a newbie here, so be gentle.

Sorry folks, but Versailles doesn't cut it.

I'm originally from Miami Beach, and I know my cuban food. The only place that really comes close is Porto's (in Glendale and now NoHo) but they're not open for dinner! Eating cuban IS eating dinner at like 10pm. So I'm looking for real cuban places. I've tried this one place south of Washington Blvd. (on Sepulveda, can't think of the name) and it wasn't bad, but it's a little out of the way now (I'm in Hollywood).

It'd also be great to get a cup of cuban coffee in the morning, but I can't find a place that makes it the real cuban way (tons of sugar, stirred with a drop of coffee in a small silver pitcher). I tried the coffee at Versailles once, and I think they used Maxwell House with some milk mixed in (café con leche).

Let me know what you've found!

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  1. Years ago, there used to be a place in Pasadena called Isle de Caribe or something like that. It's long gone, but Pasadena does have Xiomara which should fill the bill. There's also a branch in Hollywood (on Melrose) but it's not as quite as realized as Pasadena and Xiomara herself seems to hang in Pas. Not cheap but pretty good. Incidentally, if you long for things Cuban, you might take in Andy Garcia's "The Lost City." It's slow but lovely. Restaurantwise, there is also Cuba Central (or is it Cafe Central?) downtown but it's not as good as Porto's IMHO.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mc michael

      Cuba Central(on Spring St across from the Reagan building)has been closed by the health dept. a couple of times, and has now been closed for close to a month. Even if it does reopen, beware!

      1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

        While the food isn't anything special, I've never noticed anything to "beware" of at Cuba Central. According to the LA County Department of Health Services site, the most recent reasons for closure are:

        No plans submitted
        and
        No Public Health Permit

        Sounds like their management is the problem [not the food].
        I work nearby in the Bradbury and have missed having CC open for a quick lunch. Hope they're back soon.

    2. I've heard good things about Xiomara (in fact, I live a block and a half away from the Melrose location) but I have yet to try it.

      I looked at their website once though, and to be honest, $12 for a cuban sandwhich for lunch is a bit rediculous. You can get that same sandwhich, probably bigger, at an authentic cuban place in Miami for about $3. Maybe that's what it costs to eat cuban food in LA?

      Actually, I'll probably give Xiomara a try one of these days since my new job gets me 15% off on food and alcohol there!

      I'll have to check out The Lost City. Have you seen Buena Vista Social Club?

      Good try, but for now I'll be sticking with Porto's. Any other suggestions?

      3 Replies
      1. re: cincodemayo1

        Xiomara is more a dinner place than a sandwich spot. Have seen Buena Vista and it's livelier than Lost City but they would make a good mini-festival. I think it does clearly cost more to eat Cuban in LA than Miami but then there's the air fare that you can save by eating here.

        1. re: cincodemayo1

          I would stay away from Xiomara. It is very expensive (4 of us went there for lunch and the bill came to $85 excluding tip) and the food was bland and took a long time to get there. The black beans were so-so. I do agree with you about Miami's Cuban food. Only in NY have I had Cuban food that is better than Miami's. Anyhow, to get something close to Cuban coffee, try Vietnamese coffee. It is strong and a bit sweeter but with a kick.

          1. re: El Comelon

            I'll bite. Where in NYC did you have Cuban food better than Miami? What dishes and why? Just curious.
            Los Angeles just doesn't have the CUban community that those cities do (or Carribean basin in general).

        2. Please try El Cochinito at 3508 Sunset Blvd. in the Echo Park/East Hollywood area. It is very close to your neighborhood. I hear it is very authentic, but since I don't really know cuban food well, I can't confirm that.

          I went there a few weeks ago and had the cuban style roast pork. It was delicious and very tasty. I would love to hear your evaluation.

          2 Replies
          1. re: young_chower

            I've heard good things about El Cohinito and I've been meaning to try it. As much of a fan of the sandwiches that I am, I'm mainly looking for more dinner items so that's probably the place to try. I'm really looking for a good Vaca Frita (I've been making it myself lately) and some great rice and beans and plantains. So I'll definitely give this one a try soon!

            1. re: young_chower

              I'm a big fan of El Cochinito and it seems completely legit. The roast chicken and pork are both lovely. They have great plaintains and beans. Please let us know if it passes you Cuba-test

            2. I'd like to know how the Cuban place in the Orange Circle compares.

              2 Replies
                1. re: cincodemayo1

                  It is in the city of Orange where Chapman and Glassell intersect. There is a traffice circle and it is like stepping back into time because of the old building still in tact. In fact many movies set in the past have been filmed using the circle as a back drop.

                  Felix is a great, casual and very inexpensive restaurant. Very much worth a try if you are in the area.

                  www.felixcontinentalcafe.com

              1. El Floridita is a humble cuban spot in a Hollywood strip mall that you may want to check out.
                I can't say it is as good as the food I've had in Miami but hey, it's not 2500 miles away either.
                The are open for lunch and dinner and are located in the shopping center/strip mall on the southwest corner of Vine and Fountain.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bodie

                  I've been meaning to try El Floridita as well, and it's really close to my house. I looked at their menu online and the only problem is it's missing a lot of traditional cuban items and there are some odd ones. But it is close, so I'll probably have to stop by sometime.