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Mambo Cafe - San Rafael

That was a tease, no I have not been there yet. Has anyone else?

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  1. Yep. Love it, especially the beans. They might have live music tonight (Friday).

    Previous post with a link to another post
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

    Hope you try it and report back. I want to try those ham croquettes. Technically it's Mambo's.

    1. Had dinner there last week. I really really wanted to like it, but our meal was uneven so I think I'll give them another month or so to get situated before I go back.

      Our coconut shrimp app (recommended by the waitress) was good but 2 out of the 5 shrimp were undercooked and completely gray inside, which horrified my non-sushi eating friends. The mojito was very very sweet, with a tang at the end that I didn't particularly like. I'm guessing they used sugarcane juice, instead of simple syrup? Maybe that's the authentic way to do it, but it wasn't for me. The moro rice (sp?) was dry and bland, but the side of black beans was heavenly. Great fried bananas. I had the pork in mojo sauce which, to me, exemplified the entire meal: Some pieces of the pork were very dry (the tops were totally browned out) but others were moist and tasty. I packed up the leftovers and the time did wonders for the sauce; the onions were unbelievably tasty the next day. So in sum, the meal was promising but uneven. Still, it's a nice addition to San Rafael and I'll likely go back in a few months to try other dishes.

      5 Replies
      1. re: cyleater

        >>"The mojito was very very sweet, with a tang at the end that I didn't particularly like. I'm guessing they used sugarcane juice, instead of simple syrup? Maybe that's the authentic way to do it, but it wasn't for me."

        Mambo's does not (yet?) have a hard liquor license, so they don't use real rum in their Mojitos. Their liquors are made from a wine base and stored in bottles that look like liquor bottles from afar. I saw lots of good-looking cocktails going around during my meal, but it’s pretty darn disingenuous of them to serve faux drinks without being upfront about it. I only found out because I asked a question about whether or not their bar was open yet.

        As for the meal, I thought it pretty good. My wife also had the pork and had similar comments, but noted that the sauce canceled out the dryness. My steak was fine. We also ordered the fried Yucca, which where lightly crispy on the outside and nice & tender on the outside. We also thought the staff was very friendly.

        1. re: Civil Bear

          Might be a service glitch. When I ordered the drink the first thing they said was that they only had a liquor license that allowed wine and beer, so the drink they were selling had a low alcohol content.

        2. re: cyleater

          The beans and rice dish is is usually called "Moros y Christianos" Moors and Christians (black and white) [dark beans and white rice]...I have most often seen these two married together after being served ying yang style on a plate...this usually overcomes any problem with 'dry' rice should it occur......as long as the beans were tasty (and hopefully moist!)
          Thanks for sharing your experiences....

          1. re: ChowFun_derek

            Black beans and rice is not something I'd order in a restaurant, as it is a frequently and easily made dish here at home.

            1. re: ChowFun_derek

              We're always on the search for and appreciates delicious beans and rice dishes; not always easy to achieve for the home cook, well, me anyway.

          2. I had lunch there today, the pork in mojo sauce and onions, with options of fried plantains and moro rice ($9.95). The port chunks and sauce and onions were very good and flavorful, except for some dry chunks but for those the sauce (thin and very flavorful) "fixed" them enough for me to like them anyway. Good fried plantains and moro rice, not spicy at all but good mild flavor (not sure what those are supposed to be like). Large portions; brought half of it home for eating tomorrow. I like the place and look forward to trying other things.

            1. I went Friday night, I guess the music was later. We got there around 7:00 and every table was filled but one, so I guess we were lucky. They were obviously short staffed. It is very uncomfortable to enter a restaurant and not be acknowledged by any of the staff. We waited over 5 min before anyone even said one word to us. Then we had to wait close to 10 min until they cleaned off the table for us. They told us the problem was with their cash register(?). Everyone that works there is very nice, they just do not have any training and that includes the owner. He said that he was very busy on Fri and Sat nights. We arrived at 7:00 and did not order any appetizers and did not get our food until 7:45 - we were starving. If you are hungry do not get the camarones as it is just 6 medium sized shrimp ($12.95). Thank god for the rice, beans and maduros (plantains). I agree that the beans are better here than at Sol. My husband had the steak ($16.95) and asked for it cooked not pink and it was a nice big piece of meat, but it came out pretty rare, he was too hungry to send it back. I sat facing the door and was so uncomfortable all night watching people come in and not get greeted and having to wait for a table. I saw them lose three different parties of two because of this. A couple of times people came in through the back door and were seated even though someone had been waiting at the front door longer. They really need to reconsider the layout because there is no way to tell who came in first and only enough seating for two people. They seem more concerned about a stage and having an open place for people to dance, but they really need seating for people waiting, a host or hostess and another cook and another waitperson, at least on the weekend. I wanted to like this place and I will give it another try in a few months, but maybe I will go for lunch or on a weekday. It is appearant that San Rafael can handle two Puerto Rican restaurants. The big question will be when Sol opens next door can San Rafael handle three Puerto Rican places on one block?

              1. Went there on 10/20. The service was terrible and the food o.k., but bland. The bar area had glasses hanging by the stems and saw one of the obvious owners (on a cell phone constantly) hitting the rims of lots of glasses with the top of his head while walking and talking. Sure glad I didn't order a drink! We asked one of the waitresses to turn down the music as we couldn't carry on a conversation without yelling, but it did no good.