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Cuban bakeries and mom-and-pop groceries?

Christina M Apr 13, 2006 04:15 PM

Hi folks!

I moved here to the Bay Area from Florida, far away from my Cuban family and culture. I relocated specifically to Mountain View about a year ago.

So far in my hunt for Cuban food, I've only found two main standouts-- La Bodeguita Del Medio in Palo Alto, and Havana Cuba in San Jose. Both are SO expensive! $19 for a plate of black beans, rice, and puercos that my mom made for free? And where are all the guava patries (pasteles de guayaba) and cortaditos?

I'm looking for *small* Cuban restaurants, bakeries, mom-and-pop grocers. I have a feeling this is a tall order, but I'm hopeful!

Thanks everyone... and this is my first Chowhound post! I did searches first, don't worry. :)

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  1. a
    Alan408 RE: Christina M Apr 13, 2006 04:33 PM

    There is a small Cuban restaurant on Race Street in San Jose.

    I have not eaten there, but they have been there for many years.

    Habana Cuba
    238 Race Street
    San Jose

    4 Replies
    1. re: Alan408
      Christina M RE: Alan408 Apr 13, 2006 04:35 PM

      Yep-- been there a couple times and I mentioned them in my original post.

      1. re: Christina M
        Alan408 RE: Christina M Apr 13, 2006 05:00 PM

        Sorry, confused the one you mentioned with the one that used to be in Japantown, then left then came back.

        This is the one in Japantown.

        Cuban International
        625 N. 6th Street.
        San Jose

        1. re: Alan408
          Melanie Wong RE: Alan408 Apr 13, 2006 05:22 PM

          And here's a link to the thread about Los Cubanos in San Jose, the latest from the family that started Cuban International and Habana Cuba before that, according to Judith Hurley.

          Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            teela brown RE: Melanie Wong Apr 13, 2006 06:20 PM

            I like Los Cubanos way better than Habana Cuba - I've eaten at both several times. As Melanie says, it's run by the same people who started the other two restaurants, and it's cheaper than Habana Cuba. These folks are responsible for getting me and my husband hooked on Cuban sandwiches. They also serve a little Brazilian food.

    2. r
      Robert Lauriston RE: Christina M Apr 13, 2006 04:37 PM

      Los Flamingos in San Francisco is a small, inexpensive neighborhood place run by a Cuban-Mexican family. Cuban dishes are decent.


      There's also Laurel's which I think has gotten mixed reviews here. They had a Web site but I can't find it, maybe they abandoned it.


      2 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston
        varmicon RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 13, 2006 04:53 PM

        Laurels in SF is pretty good, not amazing. I've been twice and I had the pork loin last time I went, which was tasty but oversalted. good platanos maduros and black bean soup.

        i'd say it's worth a try for the OP.

        Laurels Cuban Restaurant
        205 Oak St
        San Francisco, CA 94102
        (415) 934-1575

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          sarvey RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 13, 2006 06:48 PM

          Having lived in Cuba and married a Cuban, I can say that I have been extremely disappointed with the Cuban food scene here. Laurel's was okay but I would definitely want to steer clear of Los Flamingos in SF. The "cuban" food at Los Flamingos has become a running joke between me and my husband ever since we ate there.

          I'm eager to try Los Cubanos, Sol Food, and Sofrito. Call Sofrito before you go, it has been closed the 2x I tried to go. It closes pretty early, I think around 7pm on weekdays.

          De los pastelitos de guayaba, sueña!

        2. a
          Alison RE: Christina M Apr 13, 2006 05:07 PM

          Cafe lo Cubano on California street (laurel village) - can't really recommend as i have only had their coffee - but that excellent!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Alison
            Melanie Wong RE: Alison Apr 13, 2006 05:13 PM

            Haven't been to Cafe Lo Cubano since soon after opening, but the cafe con leche was outstanding then. Haven't tried the cortadito, but it's on the menu. The guayaba pastry was awful, and the reports on the Cuban sandwich not been great either.

            Link: http://www.cafelocubano.com/

            1. re: Alison
              Robert Lauriston RE: Alison Apr 13, 2006 05:17 PM

              Cafe Lo Cubano's a prototype for a chain of Cuban-themed espresso bars. The menu isn't very Cuban, as you might expect given that that it was designed by Johnny Alamilla.

              Link: http://www.cafelocubano.com/menu/inde...

            2. b
              Breego RE: Christina M Apr 13, 2006 05:14 PM

              A Cuban friend took me to Fruitlandia on 24th near Florida St. in SF. I think it's Cuban-Puerto Rican. Very very slow service, but delicious food. I like both the Vaca Frita, which is very flavorful and cripsy, and the picadillo. The fried plantains are also good, if a bit dry. What are they called? They are the crispy, non-sweet kind, almost like a chip.

              I love the concept of the Cuban meal as I discovered it in Miami: 3 carbs and a meat.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Breego
                Melanie Wong RE: Breego Apr 13, 2006 05:19 PM


                Here's a link to a discussion of Sol Food in San Rafael, which is also Puerto Rican.

                Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                Image: http://static.flickr.com/53/121000187...

                1. re: Breego
                  Robert Lauriston RE: Breego Apr 13, 2006 05:25 PM

                  Frutilandia's OK, not as good as it was under the original (Cuban?) owners.

                  Sofrito, the Puerto Rican place in Oakland, is much better. Great bacalaitos.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    Melanie Wong RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 13, 2006 07:24 PM

                    Has anyone tried La Taza in its new location and format?

                    Link: http://www.latazadecafe.com/

                    Image: http://www.latazadecafe.com/sitebuild...

                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      Robert Lauriston RE: Melanie Wong Apr 14, 2006 12:34 PM

                      Haven't been yet but the menu looks the same. It seemed more pan-Latin / fusion than Cuban to me. I wouldn't have gone there for the food but the whole experience with music and good wine list made it a fun place to go with a group of friends. The new location (former Autumn Moon) should be even better for that.

                2. m
                  Melanie Wong RE: Christina M Apr 13, 2006 05:38 PM

                  Welcome, Christina, and good luck to you in your search! I've been on and off-and-on hunt for a good Cuban sandwich and guava pastry around here for a few years now and appreciate others joining that quest.

                  Here's a link to a discussion of Radio Habana Social Club in SF's Mission.

                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                  1. c
                    chocomel_mel RE: Christina M Jan 11, 2010 06:24 PM

                    I'm reviving this old post. I'm specifically looking for the Cuban guava & cheese pastry a la Porto's (in Southern California), if possible within San Francisco. I have this huge craving for some guava filled pastries!! Thank you!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: chocomel_mel
                      Melanie Wong RE: chocomel_mel Mar 22, 2011 11:25 PM

                      Here's a sighting in Oakland at Caña Cuban Parlor.

                      Cana Cuban Parlor & Cafe
                      530 Lake Park Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

                      1. re: Melanie Wong
                        chocomel RE: Melanie Wong Mar 23, 2011 09:28 PM

                        Thank you, Melanie. Hopefully I'll get to go to Oakland and enjoy it soon.

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