Miami Cafe - Pelham
Went yesterday for lunch. I really, really want to like this place. I've been wanting to try it for awhile when they were in the gas station on 119. I had the Cuban sandwich which was very large. But some of the pork was pretty dry. And there wasn't as much flavor as Kool Korner. Got the chicken Philly for my wife and she was pretty disappointed. Lettuce and tomato instead of peppers and onions? Too much orange cheese stuff on it. Hopefully I will be more satisfied when the get the whole menu going. The lady at the counter told me grand opening would be Feb. 1st.
We went Saturday for lunch. Four of us ordered:
2 chicken empanadas - awesome but kind of odd with chicken and cheese. I guess I'm more used to more traditional flavors but they were good.
10 (maybe more) wings - caliente and I think teriyaki. We just asked Louis to make up 10 wings with his favorite sauces. These were really good if not what I would have expected to buy at a Cuban/PR place. Nice crispy outside and good meaty wings.
Two roast pork plates. These were huge with lots of black beans and rice plus a small dressed (mostly iceberg) salad. I thought the pork was a little dry but still pretty flavorful. Easily two meals from each plate.
Cubano - huge and one sandwich could easily serve two. The sandwich was a little dry but otherwise pretty darn good. About the same as the ones as Kool Korner but larger (although I do not typically order the large ones at KK). It does not come with any sides so I ordered a side of Mofongo which I thought was pretty good and plenty garlicy.
Add in four drinks (they only have cans of soda and bottled water right now) and the total came to just shy of $60. Now we ordered a lot and they provided a lot of food but that's a big high for lunch considering the drive for me. I'll be back but will give it some more time as the timing of dishes was slowwww but we were not in a rush.
The proprietor was super nice and chatty and you can tell he's happy to be open. Did this place used to be in a gas station elsewhere? I heard something along those lines but thought he said he had only been there 12 days?
The super special with 200 wings, 10 cubanos and 25 empanadas for $150 would be great for a party of 25 people. I'm just not sure I would drive that far to pick everything up.
Well, we went to Miami Cafe tonight and were very pleased....though alone. The place was pretty dead, which I attribute to the cold weather. The proprietor (Luis Delgado) cooked for us. He was very friendly and energetic and seems to have a great vision for the place and bringing CuboRican food and culture to the area. I really hope he succeeds. He has plans to open an additional space at the same location for a bar and dance club (salsa, I presume). Right now they do not serve adult beverages.
I had lechon asado (puerto rican pork) that was chopped/shredded kind of like pulled pork. In the past my experience with this dish was more like large chunks of seasoned slow-roasted pork. The dish at Miami Cafe was a little different, but VERY good, all the same. It was served with rice and gandules (Puerto Rican beans) which was also delicious. We also had tostones (salted fried plaintain discs) that are one of my favorite things in the world (we have our own tostonera and make them ourselves). These were perfect. Crisp crunchy on the outside, soft and almost creamy on the inside. The only thing they needed was a cold beer. That will come. My wife (gringa that she is) had a chicken philly which she really liked. We had free tastes of flan and tres leches cake which were both delicious, but we were too full for a full servings.
The place is very informal...small tables in an open space. The owner has put in a screen and projector for "movie night". Ultimately there will be two rooms, the one we occupied being a more family oriented spot, and the other part for dancing and a bar.
This place is close to us (we live in Indian Springs), so we will be regulars. I wish they had better "exposure" to the younger more cosmopolitan crowd in closer to town to optimize their chances of success. I have found more rural Alabamans more risk-averse when it comes to new types of food and I want this place to survive/thrive. Luis says they will have pasteles again in the future after he gets the necessary equipment from PR for making the masa. I saw empanadas listed on a menu on the wall (@Dax) and look forward to another visit to try more things and get some more tostones!
I am really excited about this place (can you tell?). I think Caribbean food, but in particular Puerto Rican food is one of the great under-appreciated cuisines. I wish Luis the best of luck. One last note, Luis notes that so far they are having a "soft" opening, with a grand opening scheduled for February. The full menu is not yet available, but will be soon.
Check out their Facebook page.