Manolo's Cuban Cafe - Houston
- Jayro Aug 7, 2008 09:07 PM
Has anyone tried this new Cuban place called Manolo's Cuban Cafe at 6015 Hilcroft, Ste 3700? I saw it the other night when we were driving home from Himalaya. I looked it up on B4-U-EAT.com. It has a few good reviews but I thought I'd see what the Chowhounds had to say.
I also found this article while I was looking for Manolo's website:
BTW - never found Manolo's website
Jayro, thanks for the heads-up on this place. My family and I tried it on Saturday. It was wonderful and we will be going back. Actually since daughter works out there she said it would be on her lunch list. We are not Cuban food afficienados but it was all good.
You can order at the counter or seat yourself and they will take your order.
We started with and empanada. It was filled with seasoned ground beef and then fried. It was delicious. While I loved everything we had there this would definitely be on my list to always order and I wouldn't share it the next time.
I ordered a cuban sandwich. It was very good. It's made with medallions of pork tenderloin, ham, cheese, mustard, and pickles on a delicious soft centered bread. While I liked the sandwich I don't know that I'd order it again unless that was my craving only because everything else we ordered was so good and I couldn't replicate them at home.
Daughter ordered the ropa vieja with yuca can mojo (yuca with garlic sauce). She also oreded the black beans and rice mixed together (moros) and poured the ropa vieja over it. This was delicious. I've had ropa vieja a couple of time was this was the best one I've ever had.
Husband ordered the masitas de puerco (fried pork with garlic), yuca frita, and black beans and rice mixed together (moros). The pork was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. This too was delicious. A woman sitting at the table next to us who was born and raised in cuban said that she has been to other cuban restaurants in Houston and this was the best masitas de puerco she's had to date. It was her first visit to Manolo's so she couldn't recommend other dishes.
For dessert we got pastelitos de guayava y queso (puffed pastry with guava & cream cheese) and cuban coffee. The dessert was wonderful. I would go to Manolo's for the cuban coffee alone. It was a bit sweet for me but the coffee was so right I could overlook the sweetness.
While there all other customers were cuban. Service was excellent. The owners and his father Manolo were out visiting with customers making sure that all was right.
I went with a friend to this place. He passed over the Cubano and went for a variation, a sandwich called Pan con Croquetta which substitutes ham croquettes for the roast pork on a Cubano. I got a sample of this. I thought the croquettes were probably a frozen product rather than made in-house and had a mushy interior so there wasn’t much meat (some recipes say mashed potato filling others say bechamel sauce). However otherwise the sandwich was very good and I’d guess their Cubano is better than any I’ve had. He got fries with it; they were thin, frozen fries; okay but nothing special. He could have had Maduros or Tostones instead.
I went for Vaca Frita which is apparently a variation on Ropa Vieja, probably using the same meat. It’s described as shredded steak pan seared with onions. I thought it was perhaps brisket rather than steak and it was kind of tough and not at all juicy but not bad. I’d guess it had been stewed, then crisped up in a skillet, kind of like carnitas. There was some nice charring of the meat and carmelization of the onions, plus a tiny amount of some very mild pepper. It was sort of like a pile of burnt ends without any smoke or barbecue rub and I thought it needed something else. The only condiments on the table were salt and pepper and ketchup but maybe there’s some sort of Cuban Worcestershire sauce or something? We didn’t know what to ask for.
This came with a bowl of black beans and a pile of white rice as standard accompaniments; you can get that mixed by the kitchen for you in which case it’s called moros but most people were mixing it on their plates. The black beans had some subtle unexpected seasoning which I never could put my finger on. Besides that you get a choice of another side but I substituted a small salad which was a spring salad mix.
I also had the Iron Beer, a Cuban soft drink that’s like a frutier, citrusy version of Dr. Pepper. It was very aromatic when I popped open the can and I liked it a lot.
We didn’t try any desserts. The buneulos looked good but I saw one gentleman leave his flan after just a couple of bites.
I’m not too familiar with Cuban food. I’ve been to Café Piquet a number of years ago and was underwhelmed but I’ve found El Rey to be a fun place and with some pretty good food; this place falls between those two although I wouldn’t mind going back for the Cubano or to try a few other things.
It’ a mess getting in to the parking lot now because of all the construction on Hillcroft; it’s perhaps better to enter off the SW Fwy feeder headed north.
The website apparently hasn’t been updated in a while; beside the Vaca Frita I think there were other dishes on the menu not on the website and probably vice versa.
I tried it a couple of months ago. I was not "wowed" but can't say that I wouldn't return for a second try.
The service was extremely slow for a modestly busy lunch. My ropa vieja was cold in the middle, which screamed "microwaved"...so i sent it back for more heat. I went with a Puerto Rican friend, and his steak was just ok, he said.
It was ok, but did not send me away with raving comments (obviously). I have had better experiences at Congas on Richmond, near Gessner.