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[DFW] Cuban Food at Carribean Cafe

donnaaries Jul 13, 2006 01:14 PM

A while back I posted a query on Chowhound on Cuban food in the DFW area after returning from a vacation in Miami, and on those recommendations I checked out Cuba Libre, whose cuisine is creative and atmosphere delightful, but not quite the authentic Cuban cuisine I was searching for.

After searching for Cuban on Guidelive, I came across this review http://www.guidelive.com/portal/page?... on Carribean Cafe and decided to give it a try.

Tucked away in a plain strip mall on the corner of Belt Line & Webb Chapel in Carrollton, Caribbean Cafe, from the outside, is just a flashy green neon sign with some dark paned windows. Inside, however, sits a small and intimate space with bistro styled tables and a full service bar. At 8:30pm on a Wednesday night, the space was filled with a group of three women, a couple, and a family (and us, the only non-Spanish speaking ones).

Onto the food! The menu was extensive, 4 pages of appetizers, salads, entrees, specialties, and seafood items (no jerk chicken in sight, it was definitely Cuban). Sadly, I wasn't as hungry as usual at dinner time, so I skipped the appetizer and ordered the Ropa Vieja ($9.99), shredded stewed beef with bell peppers and onions. The meat was well-seasoned and tender, with just a hint of spiciness. The entree is served with your choice of black beans and rice or a mixture of both. I chose the mixture, but next time will opt for them separately as cooking the black beans and the rice together took away from the moistness of the black beans and the texture of the rice, though did give the rice a nice flavor. Fried plantains also came with the meal, you can choose either caramelized and sweet, or battered and fried to a crunch. I chose caramelized and loved it. The plate was served with a slice of tomato and a slice of fresh avocado, and with a dash of salt that made my day.

My companion ordered the picadillo plate ($9.99), seasoned ground beef with potatoes. Meat was well seasoned, and surprise, was cooked with olives. My companion is not typically a fan of olives, but he actually liked the way it gave flavor to the ground beef in this case (and actually ate all the olives!) He opted for the crunchy plantains, which had an interesting batter but I stand by my choice of the caramelized ones.

We ordered flan for dessert ($3.50). The dessert was definitely a sizable portion, tasty with a silky texture.

Service was friendly, we were greeted by practically the entire staff (hanging out by the bar since it was close to closing time) when we left. I will definitely be back to explore the other options on the menu, things like puerco asada, chicken with yellow rice (menu states allow 45 minutes for this specialty), wood-plank salmon, and the many shrimp options.

Caribbean Cafe
1000 Webb Chapel Rd
Carrollton, TX 75006
Phone: 972-418-7071

  1. k
    Kirk Jul 13, 2006 01:39 PM

    Thanks, Donnaaries! I've been looking for Cuban food in the Dallas area for years, and this is the first I've heard of an authentic place. I'll definitely check it out soon.

    1. q
      queenie Jul 13, 2006 02:39 PM

      Good report. I stumbled across this little place a couple of months ago while I was in the area running an errand. I stopped and went in to check it out and got the impression that it was family owned and operated. The first person I talked to did not speak English but the person that came out to take my order was very helpful. I only ordered a couple of sandwichs to go (the Cuban and another that was basically a Ropa Vieja sandwich) and a side of the beans (without rice)and everything was very good. I also got an order of the flan to go and it too was very good - I'd definitely order it again. I've been meaning to go back and try some of the dinner items -the picadillo in particular. I was there around 6:00 on a Saturday and although that it a little early for dinner it was not very crowded. There was one Cuban family being served but that was it. I hope this little place makes it.

      queenie (formerly LindaH)

      1. MPH Jul 13, 2006 11:46 PM

        Donnaaries, the Cuban version of picadillo traditionally contains olives and is usually served with black beans over rice (which are cooked separately then combined to serve). Ground-meat based picadillo is part of most Latin American cuisines.

        I have a question for you DFW ‘hounds. I've noticed a lot of links in the past two weeks to reviews on guidelive.com, which I believe is the web version of the Dallas Morning News. Do you consider this source a must-consult for chowhounds?

        Maybe you could give me a simple yea or nay. I don't want to get this whole thread moved to a different board, but I am curious. I'm planning a trip to Dallas and never thought of looking to the DMN for advice.

        Best,
        MPH

        2 Replies
        1. re: MPH
          k
          Kirk Jul 14, 2006 11:12 AM

          MPH:

          I think many people (me included) sometimes refer others to Guidelive to answer questions such as, "Does anyone know where (fill in the blank) is located?" It's one resource, among many. Personally, I would give more credibility to a two-sentence review on Chowhound than to a 200-word puff-up on Guidelive.

          1. re: Kirk
            MPH Jul 14, 2006 07:03 PM

            Thanks, Kirk. That's exactly what I wanted to know.

            MPH

        2. donnaaries Jul 13, 2006 11:51 PM

          I was surprised by use the olives since I'm not as familiar with Cuban cuisine. I've only had the Mexican version. I really enjoyed this version, though!

          I wouldn't say that DMN is a must consult, but it certainly is a good place to start for people who are not familiar with the area (not saying this necessarily applies to you). Unless the joint is a total hole-in-the-wall, GuideLive seems to have their fingers on reviewing them.

          1 Reply
          1. re: donnaaries
            MPH Jul 14, 2006 12:10 AM

            I know this isn’t the Home Cooking board, but if you’re interested, here’s a link to one recipe for Cuban picadillo:

            http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

            Regarding guidelive.com, I meant more along the lines of: Do the reviewers know their chow? And if so, which kinds? I've been lead astray too many times to take things on faith. After all, a food review is only as good as the person doing it.

          2. TexasToast Jul 15, 2006 08:29 PM

            Well, the last time I had a Cuban sandwich at Cuba Libre, I was quite impressed. Little Havana, maybe not, but a very well put together, clean, sandwich.

            1. s
              snatex Jul 17, 2006 03:15 PM

              I have to echo the good vibe that his place has been getting. This type of food is one of my favorites and this is definitely a solid entry. It's right up there with the best comfort cuban restaurants I have had in Miami and D.C.

              1. s
                Scott Sep 29, 2006 06:37 PM

                Though not at all Cuban, I'll put in a plug here for Elaine's (SW corner of I-45 and MLK), which is mostly Jamaican with some wider Caribbean influences. I still haven't tried the ackee or calaloo. But the oxtails, jerk chicken, and curried chicken and goat are all good. Portions are very generous for the prices.

                Scott

                5 Replies
                1. re: Scott
                  adkim Jan 12, 2007 07:39 PM

                  Scott, have you tried the Colombian restaurant, Casa Vieja, NE corner of Belt line and Josey Ln.?

                  1. re: adkim
                    s
                    Scott Jan 12, 2007 08:11 PM

                    I haven't. Is it good?

                    Scott

                    1. re: Scott
                      adkim Jan 13, 2007 05:11 PM

                      I have only been there once and it was my first experience w/ Colombian cuisine. I went w/ a Colombian friend of mine who said it was pretty close to the real deal he got when visiting his native country. I had a plate w/ three different meats, pork skin, a flank steak, and something else that I don't recall. It was a very big meal and certainly worth its price. Make sure to get a pitcher of their beer specialty, rafajo. So good.

                      1. re: adkim
                        donnaaries Jan 17, 2007 09:53 PM

                        I've been to Casa Vieja with an Ecuadorian friend who says it tastes pretty authentic. It's only my second experience with Colombian food but I would have to say Mi Pueblito in Houston is better. The plate that adkim describes is the bandeja paisa, which comes in a regular size and a smaller mini size (sufficient for my appetite). I'm not sure where else you can get Colombian food in DFW so this might be it. There's a full pictoral review at http://donnaaries.wordpress.com/2006/...

                  2. re: Scott
                    adkim Jan 21, 2007 01:49 AM

                    Thank you, Scott. One of the best meals I've had in quite some time. Brought a HUGE smile to my face the second the flavors of the curried goat hit my senses. A great way to bring in the new year.

                  3. Daveg99 Jan 10, 2007 01:31 PM

                    I just moved to the Dallas area about 2 months ago from Florida. Most of my family is in Miami and Orlando. I am half Cuban and half Italian so I am very familiar with Cuban food. My dad sells insurance in Miami and a Cuban guy came into his work that just moved from the DFW area to Miami. My dad asked him where to get Cuban food in DFW. The guy told him the Caribbean Cafe. He said it was excelent! I am going to try this place out here very soon. I love Cuban food. I can make my own picadillo and ropa vieja as well as some other Cuban dishes but I really do not like to cook just for myself. I will post about my experience there after I go. I cant wait!!

                    1. m
                      massman Jan 18, 2007 12:27 AM

                      THANKS to the hounds I went to Caribbean Cafe on Monday...had the grilled pork and onions! Couple of empanadas first! Great food...cafe cubano after the meal, and it was as good as I remember getting in Miami or Havana!!! The server told me they have opened another location just north of 121 and Preston...don't think I will make THAT drive when the orig is close enuf.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: massman
                        k
                        kindofabigdeal Apr 15, 2007 07:30 AM

                        I went to that location yesterday... twice. It is wonderful. I got papas rellenos and a bowl of soup. I never got the name, but it had pork, a rich broth with bits of meat that seemed like chicken and either potato or yuca. I don't know the texture of yuca when it's stewed, and the starch in the soup was a bit chewier than I'm used to potato being. It also came with a lime slice for dressing it. For dinner I picked up a cuban sandwich. It came with mayonaise and no mustard, then i noticed on the menu you get your choice. With a cuban sandwich I'm used to mustard being assumed. It would have been better with mustard but it was great anyway. The highlights of it were a hint of garlic and cumin and the incredible bread. It wasn't at all dry and was perfectly toasted.

                        1. re: kindofabigdeal
                          z
                          zuca Apr 15, 2007 03:02 PM

                          I'm half Cuban and half Puerto Rican. I grew up eating this kind of food. Because of the recommendations of this board, I headed today for lunch at Caribbean Cafe. I was very dissapointed. The "arroz moro" was too dry. The black beans, which I adore, were so overseasoned in cumin that it affected the aroma and taste of the bean. The "tostones" were too ripe and had lost the starch. When the green plantain has passed the point were it looses the starch, it's best to let it ripen and use as sweet plantains. The roast pork was dry and the sauce accompanying it was too sour. My 5 sons (ages 20 to 32) decided that it was a waste of money, then they complimented my cooking and said if I wanted Cuban I could cook it myself. *Pout* I wanted to eat out! No, I can't recommend this Cuban restaurant UNLESS you haven't had the real thing. The best I can say about it is that it's friendly because the food is mediocre to bad.

                          1. re: zuca
                            k
                            keylargodave Jun 21, 2007 08:33 AM

                            I lived in South Florida for 30 years and have eaten in some of the best hole in the wall Cuban places on SW 8th st in Little Havana and have to say that the Carribean Cafe is darn close to what I grew up eating.

                            1. re: zuca
                              Daveg99 Oct 14, 2008 09:06 AM

                              I guess everyone has their own opinion of what is good. Plus maybe the cook was having a bad day or something. I lived in Florida for 14 years and my dad was born in Cuba. I also lived in Puert Rico for 2 years. I know my cuban and puerto rican food! This place is pretty darn good. Its a bit of a drive for me but I plan on going back soon.

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