To just be right down there (points), it’s still pretty tough to go to Cuba. Even with all of the necessary credentials and what-not, we’re still talking about an international flight, right? However, if you’re reading this review, then it’s probably only a short drive to The Cuban Café in Madison. The Cuban Café strives for authenticity in its offerings and atmosphere, and while you’re not likely to run into a Havana cigar or a daily driver 60-year-old Chevrolet there, you will find a polished full-service restaurant with numerous genuine offerings for your lunch or dinner.
(And, having been displaced by a hurricane, it seemed a good and appropriate stop during an unexpectedly unencumbered Fall break with Lea and the boys.)
The Cuban Café Menu
I had a recommendation in hand for the nachos, so we started with those. Piled high with delicious marinated pork, cheese, vegetables, and guacamole, they received universal acclaim at the table and vanished quickly. Other available appetizers include savory pastries, shrimp ceviche, yuca fries, and plantain chips.
The eponymous ham sandwich may be the best-known ambassador of Cuban cuisine in the United States, and you’ll find a good one at The Cuban Café. The Cuban features roast pork, ham, and Swiss cheese on Cuban bread. Lea’s Media Noche (“midnight”) sandwich was very similar, but came on sweet bread. And Nathan’s Pan con Lechon featured pulled pork with grilled onions, topped with “picnic potato chips”—the shoestring crispy potatoes that are popular in numerous Caribbean cuisines. All of our sandwiches received high marks.
I went with the toston burger, with a cup of tasty black bean soup as accompaniment. This mostly follows the cheeseburger blueprint you have in your head, but adds a creamy cilantro-based sauce. And my, isn’t that an interesting bun? It’s made of fried green plantains. Is a delicious cheeseburger on a savory fried banana bun on your bucket list?
To end our meal, we shared flan and a Nutella empanada with ice cream. Both were elegantly presented and perfect conclusions to our lunch. (And though we were pretty full, we magically discovered more room for these delights.) I enjoyed a cup of coffee with dessert, and espresso is also available.
That I could see, the dinner menu retains all of the sandwiches and salads of the lunch menu, and adds entrees like chicken, steak, and shrimp creole. There is also a full bar available, with Cuban specialties (mojito, anyone?) and other favorites. I’m looking forward to trying the yuca fries on a return visit.
Cuban Café for Kids
The children’s menu selections come with a side and a drink, and include know-your-customer choices like chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, and grilled cheese sandwich. Pleasingly, there are also junior versions of the Cuban sandwich and Elena Ruz (turkey sandwich with strawberry jam and cream cheese). There are highchairs available, and both of the clean restrooms at the Cuban Café feature changing tables. #parentingwin
A Quick Cuban Café Pro-Tip:
Note that we encountered steady traffic even at a perceived “off” time. While the dining room is not cramped, neither is it especially large, and word is definitely out about this place. You’ll want to come toward the front end of peak times to minimize waits.
We received excellent service in the stylish Cuban Café environs, and there is a ton of pocketbook-friendly personality here. Even the dinner selections top out in the $15 range, leaving plenty of room to maneuver for cocktails and/or dessert. This affordable, accommodating, and child-friendly restaurant belongs on your go-to list.
The Cuban Café
Address: 5510 Promenade Point Parkway, Suite 195, Madison AL (map)
The Cuban Cafe website | The Cuban Cafe on Facebook
Tuesday through Thursday, 11 am – 3 pm and 5 pm – 10 pm
Friday and Saturday, 11 am – 3 pm and 5 pm – 11 pm
Sunday 11 am – 3 pm and 5 pm – 8 pm
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