New Cuban Sandwich joint in Tampa
Well, it's new to me anyway.........don't know how long it's been there, but I was driving east on Hillsborough Ave from Dale Mabry and came upon the Aquila cafe at the corner of Jamaica St. It was packed (I was there at noon) and I ordered a large Cuban sandwich along with a cafe con leche. The amiable and cheerful waiter that was a mainstay at La Ideal cafe on Tampa Bay Blvd for years was there, and he brought me a sandwich that was easily a foot (!) long and pressed perfectly. The ham was baked, the pork tasted like it was roasted after a marinating in mojo, the bread was fresh, and the proportions of condiment were just right.....all that and the cafe con leche was wonderful -- done the old Tampa way where the cafe solo is on the side, so the customer can mix it as desired.
I'd recommend it, and would like to know if any of you other Tampa foodies have tried it.
I have been to Aquila's twice in the last few months for coffee. La Ideal always had great cafe con leche, but the food was sort of mediocre to me. So, it became a place for coffee and toast.
In Aquila's defense, I recall that the Aquila family had sold La Ideal several years ago to the current owners, but Mario, the gregarious host had to stay for a period under the sales agreement. Once the time was up, Mario joined the rest of his family at Aquila's (which is their last name) So that may explain the subpar food service at La Ideal.
Quite clearly, Mario is a major drawing card, deservedly so in my opinion. He interacts with virtually everyone who steps into the place, even if you're only spending $3.00 for a couple of coffees
I was at Aquila with friends in October 2008. It was delicious. The guys got the pork sandwiches and the flavor was wonderful. The girls got the Cuban and they were the best we ever had. We're coming back to Tampa in February and Aguila's on our list to revisit. This time I have to try the cafe con leche, too.
Had to mention this: I took two friends - one in town from Gainesville - who wanted to try this place but when we went by at 4:30 Thursday, it was closed. Maybe it's just for lunch. We ended up going for deviled crabs in West Tampa instead and enjoyed ourselves in spite of the initial dissapointment.