"Yes, Cuba. It's an island near Florida. What language do you think they speak there?'
Well guessed, but no, Spanish, thinking that might offer some insight as to what kind of food was coming. Rather we moved onto a political discussion of Cuba, communism, John F. Kennedy, and immigration, stopping short of trade embargos. On the walk to dinner Mary was worried, "what if there are people there from Cuba who are afraid?".
The family that greeted us when we walked in to Sabor a Cuba did not appear to be at all afraid, in fact, it was just the kind of warm greeting we look for when hoping to find a cozy family run restaurant.
"This is a beautiful place!", whispered Mary, as we were the first ones there, the only ones beside the family gathered around the counter in the restaurant. Taste Buds eat early, at five Sabor a Cuba had just opened but were quite friendly to the people who showed up too early for family dinner. Quickly they put together a large table for us and the girls were immediately mesmerized by the young girl, who appeared to be about their age, distributing menus.
All three Buds commented on the "quiet" music; Noah found it relaxing, a bit of a switch from the markedly Latin moves he showed off once he finished his "awesome" sandwich, a pan con bistec. This followed an assortment of appetizers: fried yucca, tostones, papa rellena, and croquetas de jamon y pollo. All loved the yucca, essentially a fried root, very similar to the potato, which Kate thought tasted like a sweet potato. They ate everything, in fact adults reaching in for a bite were at great risk, the small hands moving rapidly between platter and mouth, trying a bit of everything. And while the parents enjoyed the very pungent garlic sauce (as did everyone the parents spoke to the following day), Mary and Kate found it to be "garlicy" and "SO garlic'ish", a bit too much, but not for Noah, "the sauce is yummy".
Mary ordered empanadas, one of her favorite forms of hand held pastry, but found the chicken to be "very, very dry". To be fair, she didn't dunk in the garlic sauce which could have, perhaps, alleviated some of the dry issue. She shared the guava and cheese pastry with Noah's younger sister and while neither of them were entirely sure as to what exactly they were eating, they both loved this option. The spinach and cheese empanada was equally delicious.
Kate tried to order her favorite, sopa de pollo, but they were out of her favorite soup that evening. Instead, after great deliberation, she chose a pan con pescado which was very tender, but not very tasty. So she removed the offending fish and ate a "delicious" French roll with tomatoes and mayonaise. Not exactly a typical Cuban dinner but one that made Kate very happy.
Adults were quite pleased as well although we could have been served shoe leather after all the garlic we ate with the plaintains and garlic sauce.
Noah, who has become our resident bathroom inspector, checking almost immediately and reporting back with detail, found this one to be small, but thankfully not offensive. The total cost for 8 was about $100, which included more food than we needed, as is usually the case.
Sabor a Cuba is BYOB, which offers a great opportunity to run across the street to City Provisions Deli for beer or wine. We skipped dessert because a walk from the Montrose brown line stop to Sabor a Cuba means passing Margie's Candies, and as any good Taste Bud knows, you have to stop at Margie's on the way home, but that is a story for another day.Sabor a Cuba 1833 W. Wilson Chicago, IL 60640
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