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Best Cuban Restaurant in the St. Pete area?

We went to El Habanero in Sarasota (Burns Court) and it was FANTASTIC. Are there any comparable Cuban restaurants in St. Pete/South Pinellas? They (El Habanero) had a fantastic lunch special of Roast Chicken with plantains en tentacion and moros. Great great great. We love good Cubans too, but really want a place with more varied, authentic dishes.

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  1. It is not in St. Pete but my favorite Cuban restuarant is Arco Iris on Columbus Dr. in Tampa. Beef, pork, fish, chicken, chinese, etc. Chinese you ask? I am not 100% sure but some have said it is because the chinese settled in Cuba and came over with them to America. Maybe someone can say for sure out there.


    2 Replies
    1. re: RibDog

      Yes, Chinese were brought over to work in the sugar fields in the 1800's. Most left during Fidel's revolution.

      1. re: dmfnole

        many thousands of chinese passed through Tampa and settled here while traveling from San Fran to Florida by rail. They'd hop a steamship to Cuba from here. Tampa had lots of Chinese restaurants and especially laundries in the 1890s. We also had a complement of opium dens. The Cuban fried rice keeps memories alive---- Arco Iris's is quite popular.

        I'd have to go with Habana Cafe in Gulfport. Good roast pork.

    2. I think Habana Cafe in Gulfport is good, but I usually order the same thing every time (roast pork), so I can't speak for the other dishes. The pork is really, really good though.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JB222

        Overall the food at Habana Cafe is good. Try the "papa rellena". I haven't tried any better in Pinellas as of yet

      2. Alvarez's in Palmetto, and Red Mesa ini St. Pete

        3 Replies
        1. re: lmb8439

          I'm curious as to why you consider Red Mesa to be a cuban restaurant. It has always appeared to me to be more of a southwestern style restaurant.


          1. re: RibDog

            I was reading having a senior moment and thought the post was Mexican. If I were to have responded in my right mind, I would agree that Habana Cafe is terrific, and I think Tangelo's is also very fun & steady. Bracado's (sp) in Tampa is terrific, and the little Country Store over on 13th Avenue just rocks, I guess the Mom is running it and they might have to move. Sorry for wrong post. Will be attending your cooking school in Bradenton with my neighbors as a gift.

            1. re: lmb8439

              No problem. My mind slips all the time. You know what they say. Fifth thing to go and can't remember the first four.

              Are you coming over for the Smoked Standing Rib Roast class in Brandon at the Rolling Pin? That's great. Love to have you come over. BTW, that will probably be my last class for this year as October is very busy for me and Dr. BBQ will be back to take the classes over in November. But even when he does take the classes over for the winter, I will probably still be there to assist.

              Hope to see you there. Please make sure you introduce yourself to me.


        2. I've always found the food at La Theresita to be good. Cheap, plentiful, and authentic.

          1. Im with you!!!, i am Puerto Rican from Tampa which has so many great Cuban/Spanish places to eat .... and now i live in Seminole and there is nothing here...if anyone knows different please write!!!

            1. Having never been to “El Habanero”, I am not quite sure what to compare it in this area but I'll give my best shot as to where I often eat Cuban/Spanish/Puerto Rican/Latin American food around here:

              1. Amelita's Spanish & Cuban Cafe - Saint Petersburg

              Overall good food. Roast pork is a little salty, but good. The palomilla steak sand is
              very good, as is the baked chicken and picadillo. I will note that the food quality
              has gotten better in the past month or so.

              No website but here is some more info:



              1840 61st Ave. North
              Saint Petersburg, FL 33714
              (727) 521-4400


              2. Cuban Delight Cafe

              It has been quite a long time since I have been here, and quite frankly I don't even
              remember what I had. I know it was good and that I would go back, I just don't make
              it out that way very often.


              950 49th St.N.
              Saint Perersburg, FL
              (727) 328-7335


              3. Catalina's Cafe - Latin American Food

              I am not sure how this little gem of a place has gone unmentioned for so long, though I suppose I can understand as it is sort of hidden.

              The owners are actually from Ecuador but the menu has that strong Tampa Bay area Spanish/Cuban influence.

              I've only had the roast pork and a Cuban sandwich. The sandwich is done just right in my opinion. She makes it with mayo just for me :) - Perfect crunch on the outside. . .

              There is a different soup each day - all great. Many people apparently come in just for that. There are daily lunch specials as well as other dinners (Spanish Steak, Pork Chops, Chicken Parmesan, Palomilla, Chuletas, Puerco en Salsa, Albondigas, and Cherna to name a few).

              They also do breakfast.


              2189 Cleveland Street
              Bld. G, Suite 205
              Clearwater, FL 33765
              (727) 441-1903


              Olga's Deli

              As I've mentioned before, the BEST Palomilla Steak Sandwich around here. Made with those shoe string potatoes - nothing more I can really say except you must try. Baked chicken and roast pork are also excellent (also some of the best I have had) just make sure you get there early enough or the chicken might be dried out (don't be afraid to ask for the more moist pieces (or have then spoon plenty of the sauce over top). Also pork chops, Media noche, deserts, full grocery and other specials. They also do breakfast (sandwiches). No dinner, but you might be able to call your order in around lunch time and pick it up later for dinner.


              1745 Drew Street
              Clearwater, FL 33755


              Already mentioned

              1. Habana Cafe:

              All around great - on the higher price side you could say but quite worth it.

              2. Tangelo's:

              Great Sandwiches, salsa and chips. They probably have one of the best Cubans around. The Spicy chicken Cuban packs a punch. More of a Floribbean type restaurant. Good beer on tap and in the bottles too.

              2. Cafe Kolao:

              In Pinellas Park - Never been but supposed to be good


              Sorry, but skip La Teresita in Pinellas Park until they can get their act together. Yes you might get a mound of food for cheap cheap cheap, but shoddy service and dirty inside.


              Have not tried:

              There is another Puerto Rican dive on Drew St. in Clearwater. I can't think of the name but have been wanting to stop in. I will report back once I do.


              That is all I can think of for now. When I remember more, I of course will report back.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Little T.

                Next door to Cafe Kolao is a place called Spain Plus... it's own by a husband and wife team from Cuba. They have a great deli that serves lunch specials. Their croquetas are great - actually everything is tasty! Though they don't have a consistent menu (always a surprise to see what they are serving that day) everything we've tried has been good.

                1. re: Little T.

                  Also, Rio's "nearly famous" Cubans. Been a long long time since I have been there so can't really comment. Should be good . . . .

                  Rio Cuban Sandwiches
                  5944 34th St N
                  St Petersburg, FL 33714
                  (727) 528-0206

                2. Tampa Style Cubans on East Bay Drive in Largo

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sunkissedbabe43

                    >>Tampa Style Cubans on East Bay Drive in Largo

                    I'll have to try that. Thanks!

                  2. Not quite in St. Pete, but just across the Skyway Bridge, in Ruskin, is the Ybor Grille. They have great Cuban food and it's very reasonable. The roast pork is out of this world.

                    1. For those who are sticklers, it is really Spanish cuisine with a Cuban influence, there is the Columbia Restaurant at the Pier in St. Petersburg and also on Sand Key (across the bridge from Clearwater Beach).

                      The Chinese and also Japanese were brought to Cuba to work in the sugar canes fields in the late 1800's, thus a Cuban of Japanese ancestry named Jose Kato, whom I meet once.