PHX area: Reviews on Sabor Latino and Babaloo's
So I drove the 25 minutes to Babaloo's and was disappointed. I ordered the Lechon Asado ($19) which came with black beans and rice and yucca. I only have two Cuban places (Havana Rumba in Louisville, KY and a small cafe in Manhattan) to compare my experience to and Babaloo's fell short of both.
The pork was flavorful, but served in chunks rather than shredded, the way I am used to. The chunks were a bit a dry, but tasty. The rice and beans were nothing special. They tasted like the ones I make at home and I'm no chef. The yucca was not great either. Strangely one end had flavor and the other did not. I'm used to yucca having a nice creamy texture on the outside and a bit more firm, starchy in the center. This yucca seemed undercooked and tasteless.
For the price, the portion seemed small. If it had been tastier, I would have cleaned my plate easily and still had room for more (usually I take home leftovers since I eat smaller portions). When I went to Havana Rumba in Louisville, I literally made two meals and a snack out of my Lechon Asado meal that was $14 (granted everything in Kentucky is cheaper), but the quality was so much better. I woke up looking forward to my leftovers. At Babaloo's--I ate because I was hungry and as soon as my initial starvation wore off, I stopped eating and didn't bother with the leftovers. So disappointing and I wouldn't spend the money there again.
Sad...I had such a good experience there and not just once but three times...I feel like the food and staff make for a warm “everyone knows your name environment” which I really love…Now I am from the east coast (NYC), and personally, I feel like I know good Cuban food…I grew up with quite a few of families in my neighborhood and this food tastes like home made with some flare…
Now, on to the Lechon Asado I have tried this dish at Babaloos and other Cuban places accross the country (including at a family table), and from my “vast” encounters with this dish, it has never been shredded.. Just saying maybe there were Mexican’s making your so called Cuban food….its a real possibility considering the amount of people of Mexican decent that work in restaurants across this country (not trying to be offensive just saying)…I will Say Babaloo’s is a bit spendy, but, it is also not a cafeteria with plastic lawn furniture (sorry I think the decor in Havana café at least In Awatukee is tacky and really cheesey), the place has got some style! Its romantic and intimate.
The last time I was there which was in early September (for my b-day), they had started a happy hour with discounted drinks and appetizers, which is great IMO, because this means I can afford to get my Cuban food fix more often. I just think we need to support our local small business owners is all…
Oh, and by the way, something I learned about Havana café recently...not saying its totally true, but it was from an insider... The owner is Cuban, but his Wife who runs the restaurant and oversees all of their Non-Cuban cooks, is a white Jewish lady….Hardly authentic…