Restaurateurs Roberto and Esther Diaz missed that authentic food from their native country, so they opened this lively cafe-bar to showcase Cuban fare. Service seemed overwhelmed with hit-or-miss dishes during our first visit. Albondigas (meat and pork meatballs) served in tomato sauce channeled Italian meatballs, and the diced Cuban beet salad with green apples, goat cheese, pine nuts, and watercress cried for acid. Classic ropa vieja, the national dish of Cuba, with tender shredded beef slowly cooked in tomato sauce, was fine but lacked soul. Ditto the seafood paella, presented in small paella pans with chewy calamari, mussels, fish, and shrimp over bomba rice. Myriad seafood includes four different ceviches, shrimp dishes, and fish entrées. We did send our mahi mahi back because of severe overcooking. Dine early Thursday through Sundays if you’re seeking a quiet evening; Cuban Night starts at 8 p.m. those nights, with live bands and cigar rolling on-site.
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Buena Vista Cuban Cafe
The lively Cuban nights overshadow the food at this new spot on bar-packed Washington Avenue.