Posted on | February 22, 2009 | No Comments
One of our (many) favorite types of food is Cuban. The rich flavors, fried plantains, all of that garlic and onion… Yum! We found Cafe Cuban Breeze shortly after we moved here, and were going there pretty regularly until they closed down a couple of years ago. We’ve since gone to the Florida Cafe, which I’ve always thought was good, but not great. Yesterday I decided we should try this little hole in the wall place, which is just a block or so up from the Florida Cafe on Las Vegas Blvd. The place is tiny, and it kind of feels like being inside someones home! Very warm and cozy inside, with lots of chatter and Telemundo blaring out from the tv. The owners appear to be the people serving, and I have a feeling this might be a family run operation. Our server was extremely nice and seemed genuinely concerned whether or not we were enjoying our meal. I love this kind of place!
She certainly didn’t need to worry because save for a few fried plantains that I just couldn’t finish, we both cleaned our plates. I went for the Pollo Criollo (at the servers recommendation) and Adam went for his go-to Cuban dish, Ropa Vieja. We both ordered sides of fried plantains, although I think next time we’ll share one.
Shortly after sitting down we were presented this simple but delicious grilled bread. It was still warm and nice and crusty:
Just a couple of minutes later (the service here is lightning fast) our dishes came out. Mine is the one pictured at the top. The rice and beans came out separate:
I have to say that I’ve always LOVED Cuban rice. I’m not sure what subtle seasoning they put in it. Is it just salt? Whatever it is, it’s quite tasty! The beans, I’ve never been a big fan of. I know you are supposed to pour those beans on top of the rice and mix it all together, but I’ve never done that. I have some weird aversion to mixing dishes that come out separately, which almost ruined my dinner… more on that in a bit. Not only was the rice as good as I expected, the beans were really tasty! Much more flavorful than I’m used to, they tasted like they’d been simmering in a cauldron all day with plenty of garlic, onions, and who knows what else. The end result was the best black beans I’ve ever had!
As for my Pollo Criollo, like I said, I have a weird aversion to mixing up foods that are presented separately, so I started eating it as is, and was immediately disappointed. She said the dish was seasoned with tons of garlic and onions, so why did it taste so bland? I tried to save it by squeezing lime juice on it and pouring salt and pepper on top to no avail. Adam could tell I wasn’t enjoying my dish (reaching for the salt shaker is always a dead giveaway with me) and said “Why don’t you put it over your rice and eat it like you are supposed to?” I figured it couldn’t hurt. So I did as suggested, and guess what? My Pollo Criollo instantly became a completely different dish! I guess the sauce was concentrated at the bottom? Well, whatever magic happened, it turned into a dish that I loved and would highly recommend. Garlicky, with plenty of onions, tomatoes and bell peppers. The chicken pieces were well cooked, and some were quite crispy. Absolutely delicious!
The Ropa Vieja was also one of the best versions of this dish I’ve had. It was absolutely bursting with flavor! The couple of bites I took were an explosion of tomato, garlic, onions, and ridiculously tender beef.
Then there were the Fried Plantains. Our favorite Cuban restaurant in LA,Versailles, was always hit or miss with these. Sometimes they would come out to us and we knew they had just been cooked; and other times they’d come out to us as though they’d been cooked yesterday and sitting under a heat lamp all day. Well, the latter was not the case with these plantains. Molten hot and sweet on the inside, crispy on the outside. Perfect.
We were both impressed with not only the quality and flavor of the food at Rincon Criollo, but also the prices; much cheaper than at most Cuban restaurants. Although the portions looked small when brought out, we were both completely stuffed as we walked out the door. We will definitely be coming back!
1145 S Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89104
Phone: 702 388-1906