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BEST CASUAL CUBAN RESTAURANT???

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sel May 30, 2009 12:12 PM

Between the mid '80's and mid 90's I used to eat Cuban food all the time. First at Versaille on Venice Blvd. and then I discovered Rincon Criollo on Sepulvada Blvd. where I preferred the chow, cozier space and friendlier and more attentive service. Haven't been to either for a few years and have a taste for Cuban so fellow Hounds where should I go? No upscale, 'Hollywood scene' places please! TIA

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  1. JackonCrack RE: sel May 30, 2009 01:10 PM

    In Atwater Village:

    Baracoa
    3175 Glendale Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA
    http://www.baracoacubancafe.com/

    It will sound weird, but the (mixed) rice and beans was AMMMMMMAZING. And the media noche was succulent. Ooooh mouth watering now....

    1. Fritter RE: sel May 30, 2009 01:45 PM

      BEST CASUAL CUBAN???

      Well I really enjoy a Bolivar Bellicoso Fino cabinet selection but I don't mind an occasional Trinidad or Monte Cristo #2.
      Throw a little Compay Segundo in the CD player, crack a bottle of Bodegas San Cristobal and pass the pork sandwiches. ;)

      1 Reply
      1. re: Fritter
        s
        sel RE: Fritter May 30, 2009 01:56 PM

        Yea, Grandpa Movie Producer liked those Cubans too, may he rest in peace (he paid the price for his vice)!
        So what about the "...pork sandwiches."

      2. c
        chowchi1 RE: sel May 30, 2009 03:47 PM

        A simple, unassuming place -- all you can eat buffet of Cuban foods. Feels like your visiting tia's kitchen for a homemade meal.

        Lili's Cuban Buffet
        3887 E Sierra Madre Blvd
        Pasadena, CA 91107
        (626) 351-1020

        1. m
          markn RE: sel May 31, 2009 08:18 PM

          El Criollo in Van Nuys. Food is wonderful, and they recently moved into a nice space on Van Nuys Blvd north of Victory.

          Check it out

          http://www.cubanfoodla.com/index.html

          3 Replies
          1. re: markn
            Kate is always hungry RE: markn Jul 9, 2009 10:41 PM

            El Criollo has been my favorite Cuban since it opened. Love the Ropa Vieja!

            1. re: Kate is always hungry
              lil mikey RE: Kate is always hungry Jul 10, 2009 09:58 AM

              The fricaseed fish or chicken is also good at El Criollo. Ropa vieja there is delicious.

              I also like Baracoa in Atwater. Try the BBQ ribs. They're fall-off-the-bone tender. And they have a chicken lunch special.

              El Floridita in Hollywood has a relaxed lunch. At night they have entertainment, so it gets a little much, but lunch is quiet and casual.

            2. re: markn
              j
              JTea RE: markn Feb 19, 2013 01:15 PM

              +1 for El Criollo

            3. h
              HappyYummyDay RE: sel May 31, 2009 09:43 PM

              Tropi-Cuba Cafe on Vermont Ave, about half a block south of Carson St. Nice AYE lunch buffet - be sure to arrive early! Every Tuesday, AYE buffet dinner + live music.
              www.tropi-cubacafe.com
              Havana Mania in Redondo Beach/Inglewood: Have not been there myself, but have been hearing some good reviews from friends in the area.
              www. havanamania.com

              4 Replies
              1. re: HappyYummyDay
                avivale RE: HappyYummyDay Jun 1, 2009 11:10 AM

                I used to work in the neighborhood of Havana Mania. LOVED their Ropa Vieja. The other menu items I tasted weren't particularly good.

                1. re: HappyYummyDay
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                  bigmista RE: HappyYummyDay Jul 13, 2009 04:47 PM

                  I like the Oxtails and Yucca Fritta at Havana Mania. Nice, cozy and casual. And they usually have some form of live music on the weekends.

                  1. re: bigmista
                    wienermobile RE: bigmista Feb 19, 2013 01:40 PM

                    4 years later and I still recommend Havana Mania in Redondo Beach. Great Tuesday special Lechon Asado / Roast Pork. Served with rice, beans and plantains. $11.99 after 5pm.
                    http://www.havanamania.com

                    1. re: wienermobile
                      j
                      Jase RE: wienermobile Feb 19, 2013 07:09 PM

                      Second that and the happy hour is pretty good too. Always friendly attentive service.

                2. e
                  Ernie RE: sel Jul 10, 2009 09:58 AM

                  La Cubana in Glendale is my favorite. Family-run, very clean, and great Cuban food. I particularly like their lechon

                  -----
                  La Cubana Restaurant
                  135 North Maryland Avenue, Glendale, CA

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Ernie
                    j
                    JTea RE: Ernie Feb 19, 2013 01:14 PM

                    +1 for La Cubana

                  2. s
                    schrutefarms RE: sel Jul 10, 2009 11:02 AM

                    Porto's is good, but I still love Versailles.

                    1. t
                      travelingmansoul RE: sel Jul 13, 2009 09:59 PM

                      versaille is decent...

                      in manhattan beach, there is a decent one but the name escapes me....it may be havana mania.....

                      1. u
                        ultraviolet RE: sel Jul 14, 2009 08:35 AM

                        I agree with Ernie. La Cubana on Maryland in Glendale.
                        I prefer it to Baracoa.
                        The tamales are fantastic.
                        I could easily eat at least 12 in one sitting, though I've never tried.

                        1. m
                          mrsantora RE: sel Jul 14, 2009 10:02 AM

                          I like

                          Guantanamera Restaurant
                          916 W Burbank Blvd
                          Burbank, CA 91506
                          (818) 846-8500‎

                          the food is great and the service is also very good. Prices are decent and the parking is pretty good. It's across the street from a Costco.

                          1. c
                            Cubancoffee RE: sel Jul 14, 2009 02:14 PM

                            If by casual you mean total hole in the wall, La Caridad on Temple, west of Alvarado, has the best media noches in town, piled high and toasted just right on the sandwich press, and excellent ropa vieja. La Cochinita on Sunset also has fine ropa vieja, as well as paella and chicken fricassee among their daily specials. No scenes at either.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Cubancoffee
                              JackonCrack RE: Cubancoffee Jul 18, 2009 10:11 AM

                              I second La Caridad! It's like a 50's dinnette with Cuban food. Amazing.

                              1. re: Cubancoffee
                                Local RE: Cubancoffee Feb 17, 2013 07:47 AM

                                Ditto re La Caridad... owner and family are really nice people, too! relaxed and comfortable place.

                                1. re: Cubancoffee
                                  n
                                  ns1 RE: Cubancoffee Feb 19, 2013 05:40 PM

                                  I used to live above this place and went here, probably based on this very thread. Media noche was okay, but IMHO not as good as Portos. You also have to be very down with the true hole in the wall experience.

                                2. e
                                  estone888 RE: sel Feb 16, 2013 09:47 AM

                                  La Caridad has moved to 2619 W Sunset Blvd in Silverlake and is still casual and good.

                                  My favorite is also in Silverlake: El Cochinito, 3508 Sunset Blvd. It is also the favorite of several of my Cuban friends. It is cheap, casual, very friendly people run it, and the food is great.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: estone888
                                    barryc RE: estone888 Feb 17, 2013 01:50 AM

                                    still my favorite place, but not so cheap anymore. last november lunch for 2 ran almost $40! and that was for 2 bistec empanizado's a couple of materva's, & a couple of flans.

                                  2. Porthos RE: sel Feb 19, 2013 02:07 PM

                                    In OC: Bella Cuba. I like it better than Versailles La Cienega.

                                    Oxtail and ropa vieja are excellent.
                                    Arroz con pollo isn't bad either.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Porthos
                                      o
                                      OCSteve RE: Porthos Feb 19, 2013 02:57 PM

                                      +1 on Bella Cuba.

                                      Oxtail is great, as are the vaca frita, lechon asado, and the pollo asado. The only think I've had there that I was less than great was the Cuban sandwich. Not bad, just nothing special.

                                      1. re: OCSteve
                                        Porthos RE: OCSteve Feb 19, 2013 03:10 PM

                                        Agree that one should pass on the Cuban sandwich there. Very average.

                                        Regarding the vaca frita, I ordered it once and it just came out bistec. It's supposed to be shredded beef which is then re-fried in a pan. Is this what you got? I'm assuming they just got my order wrong.

                                        1. re: Porthos
                                          o
                                          OCSteve RE: Porthos Feb 19, 2013 04:00 PM

                                          It sounds like they did get your order wrong. I got it the way that the way the menu described it. Really good.

                                    2. a
                                      AlkieGourmand RE: sel Feb 20, 2013 12:16 AM

                                      There is no good Cuban restaurant in LA and you are wasting your time.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: AlkieGourmand
                                        Porthos RE: AlkieGourmand Feb 20, 2013 07:43 AM

                                        As someone who has lived in Miami and goes back at least 3-4 times a year to dine on Cuban food (amongst other things), I would have agreed with you until I tried Bella Cuba in OC. The rabo, ropa vieja, lechon, pollo asado are definitely good eats.

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