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Jan 2, 2011 12:30 PM

Vicente's Cuban restaurant in downtown Detroit

Based on recs from xman887 and JimM ( ), I ate at downtown Detroit’s “Vicente’s Cuban Restaurant” today, and it was a winner. (

The chef’s aim seems to be to offer solid quality Cuban food to an area otherwise having none, and to affordably provide it in a fun place. (This would be as opposed to, say, ripping people off with gimmick food, or to providing home cooking in a dive atmosphere.)

I had braised pork with sautéed onions, with sides of black beans ‘n rice, boiled cassava (similar to potato) and darkly caramelized plantains, preceded by Italian bread and compound butter. The pork was tender, juicy and well trimmed. For my personal taste, I wished the herbs and spices had been more strongly leveraged; but, maybe I’d now be complaining because I couldn’t taste the fresh pork…

Note---Here is how the menu describes the dish (but I’ll hold to my description): “Lechon Asado - Roasted pork leg, marinated with zesty Mojo de Ajo sauce. Served with Moro rice, yuca, and sweet plantains.”

All the sides played their supporting roles very well. Not a bad score for $12.50 !! Had the beer list been better and had groovy Latin people been showing-off on Vicente’s big dance floor at the time, this experience would have been awesome.

Anyway, on my way out, curiosity and enthusiasm got the better of me, and I ordered Arroz con Pollo to go. Of course, when I got to my parked car I used a business card to scoop-up some of this chicken rice so it could be experienced hot. Great texture, appearance and flavor, with a nice little kick. I’m sure anyone with a Cuban grandmother would just give this a “B” at best, but I give it an “A,” even though it wasn’t quite as beautiful as its menu photo.

I should add that my server John and the other employees all were very good and also friendly.

Yes, Vicente’s is a deserving option! Thx xman887 and JimM (and probably others)

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  1. didn't mention pork and myself in the same post! :)

    I need to get my ass over to this joint.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JanPrimus

      Had it been a heritage breed, rather than simply competent preparation of standard pork, you would have gotten a shout out. :-)

    2. Glad you enjoyed it! I agree, the price is really right there in terms of what you get in food and atmosphere.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jim M

        Mudgie's Deli is moving next door. I hope this spells WIN and not DIVIDE. I think that Mudgie's is lunch and Vicente's is more dinner.

        1300 Porter St, Detroit, MI 48226

      2. Sounds like a success! I've yet to try Vicente's. For Cuban food in this area, I've only ever been to Royal Oak's Cafe Habana. I assume Vicente's is much better?

        6 Replies
        1. re: jjspw

          Ooops, you busted me again jjspw. When I said Vicente's was the "only Cuban place in the area," I had been overlooking Cafe Habana. Unfortunately, I can't compare. I've cut thru Cafe Habana twenty times (usually stopping at the shared bathroom) on my way into its Belgian sister restaurant (Bastone...not that Bastone deserved twenty visits), but I've never stopped to try Cafe Habana's food. I had always assumed it was fake Cuban food sold by slick restaurant business people. Maybe I should give it a try, for comparison sake.

          1. re: VTB

            Heh, wasn't trying to bust you! I totally overlooked "the only Cuban place in the area", didn't even realize you'd said that. :-)

            I remember enjoying my meal at Habana, but it was 3 years ago, and I've only been that one time. I think you're right in saying that it's "fake Cuban food sold by slick restaurant business people". Also consider the target clientele are the people who find Downtown Royal Oak to be a destination.

            1. re: jjspw

              (next time things get slow on the GL Board, let's start a Topic which analyzes Royal Oak, because it would be interesting to discuss the mediocrity that inexplicably flourishes long-term in that neighborhood...yes I eat there, but how can it not be SO MUCH better?....what the heck?)

              1. re: VTB

                Good idea, VTB! I'm always up for a discussion on RO mediocrity and overratedness.

                1. re: jjspw

                  That makes three...I'm in...start it up VTB!!

          2. re: jjspw

            > Cafe Habana ... I assume Vicente's is much better?


            Cafe Habana
            423 S Union St, Traverse City, MI 49684