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El Chevere, new Cuban restaurant in San Rafael

Has anyone been yet? They apparently opened last week. Restaurant's location is on 4th near E, in the spot that Om used to occupy. I won't get a chance to swing by until next week at the earliest, but will post back when I do. Saw 3 or 4 positive Yelp reviews FWIW.

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  1. As you know, San Rafael had two good Cuban choices in the past, Mambo's and then Mikey's. The chef in both instances was Freddy Caamal. I have my fingers crossed that he resurfaces again.

    I looked at the Yelp page and the reviewers are all one-time posters and seem like shills.

    http://www.zagat.com/b/san-francisco/...

    3 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      I am ALWAYS suspicious of Yelp but the fact that El Chevere might be considered an underdog compared to the goliath that is it's closest competitor (Sol Food), might have previous non-yelpers wanting to give some added support.

      We went on a quiet night (I've driven by and seen the place somewhat busy). 2 tables of diners came to ours on their way out saying how much they hope we liked the place and asking us to spread the word. Neither was connected to the management but both were Cuban and were thrilled to have what they considered authentic cuisine in the neighborhood.

      Our experience was good. The staff was warm and hospitable and you do want root for them to succeed. Adding a little warmth to the atmosphere could help (dim the lights, add candles, etc).

      Everyone in our party liked their dishes but I would like to return before giving a complete review. We seemed to choose dishes that could have a direct comparison to Sol Food (who I am convinced put something in their food to specifically entice 25 year olds to stand on lines down the block) and I would like to try things unique to them.

      1. re: MSK

        Thank you. Since you liked your dishes, I'd love to hear about a Cubano, if it's on the menu.

        I've enjoyed my meals at Sol Food, but I'm not gaga over the place. I wouldn't wait in line and I wouldn't cross a bridge solely to eat there again.

        1. re: MSK

          I agree with you. I'm Cuban, and although Sol has filled the gap for a while, it doesn't compare with El Chevere which is truly authentic Cuban food. And the food keeps getting better. I wish them success because I miss my mama and abuela's cooking. ;)
          Thx for your post
          Luly

      2. We stopped by today at 3 pm and El Chevere was closed.

         
         
          1. re: Melanie Wong

            I really liked this place. For a main I had the ropa vieja and it was fantastic. Also got something that I think was labeled "avocado salad" and was just a whole chopped avocado, but since it was perfectly ripe, the simplicity didn't disappoint.

          2. I missed this posting until now. I'm very sorry that Om is gone; didn't know that either. I'll definitely have to check out
            El Chevere.

            1. I went there for a late lunch today and had the Cubano. I'm no expert on Cubanos, but this was a sandwich as a sandwich was meant to be, meaning the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. It really came together very well, including the house-made hot sauce the waiter brought after asking if I wanted some. I opted for the green salad instead of french fries and it was quite good, with house-made vinaigrette dressing served on the side. The very friendly waiter said he was from Panama and married the owner's daughter, and that everyone involved was from Cuba except for himself. The owner had a restaurant in Miami, then moved here. You owe it to yourself to check this place out. Live music on Saturday night, 6-8 pm.

              A few photos. I'll add more when I go back.

              http://ruthvenphotos2.com/elchevere

              6 Replies
              1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                Great photos, Malcom. Thank you for sharing them.

                1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                  I am torn with regards to this place. I like the story but tend to go to Sol Food for my Puerto Rican/Latin food fix in the area. My hesitancy with El Chevere is with some of the ingredients they are using in the dishes, they appear more Americanized. The Cubano at El Chevere looks to have lettuce and tomatoes, am I seeing this correctly in the picture? Also entrée sized ensaladas at Sol Food come with something like pickled onions, tomato, avocado. El Chevere looks to offer cucumber, carrots, and tomato.

                  1. re: Scott M

                    As i recall, no lettuce or tomato in the Cubano. And the salad was a side salad, not an entree salad.

                    1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                      My entrée salad description comes from the menu/pictures from Yelp. Your picture looks to show lettuce and possibly tomato on the sandwich.

                    2. re: Scott M

                      Went to El Chevere for lunch today. They do indeed serve their cubano with lettuce and tomato. It's an okay cubano, although hardly worth $9. Side of fried yuca with garlic was also just okay.

                      DC's lechon con mojo also wasn't anything special (nothing you couldn't easily do at home), although her fried plantains were quite good. Ham croquetas served with the mild green dipping sauce were also pretty good.

                      Food wasn't bad but at $40 OTD it's not worth a second trip, IMO.

                      1. re: Scott M

                        The El Chevere Cubano is mighty good, even with the small amount of shredded lettuce/tomato, actually better because it lightens up a pretty heavy pork/ham/melted swiss cheese sandwich. My request would be for more pickle but I thought the bread was as close to form as you are likely to find around here, the pork was moist and kind of chunky and the serving size over all was generous. Comes with fries or salad. An additional side of freshly fried tostones was also quite tasty.

                    3. Muchas gracias, hounds! Without you I never would have known about this place. Went today with my DH (born and raised in Cuba) and found the food to be very good... and way more authentic (think old school Miami Cuban) than just about anyplace we've tried in the Bay Area.

                      My favorite were the homemade ham croquetas, which we rarely find in northern CA. They're a bargain at $4.95 for 4 large croquetas, hot and perfectly crispy outside, rich and creamy inside, and they come with 2 non-traditional but delicious creamy dipping sauces: one mild green and one slightly spicy red. It's worth a drive over a bridge just for these.

                      We also had vaca frita, lechon, arroz blanco, frijoles negro, arroz moro, yuca con mojo, maduros, arroz con leche, and flan. Everything we tried was homey and full of flavor. The only thing I wasn't fond of was the arroz con leche, which, though it isn't mentioned on the menu, is made with coconut (which I hate). DH said it was great, though, and the owner said he was using his grandmother's recipe and she always used coconut. The flan was the Caribbean kind that my Cuban MIL used to make: very dense, eggy, sweet, and delicious.

                      DH declared the Cuban coffee excellent and traditional, and I found the sangria very good -- just the right balance of sweetness and fruit juices.

                      Looking forward to going back and trying sandwiches, including the Cubano. I, too, was worried about the photos that appear to show lettuce & tomatoes on it....but the takeaway menu does not list them on the sandwich description. Lettuce and tomato ARE included in the descriptions of the pan con bistek, sandwich de salmon and sandwich de pollo, though.