I’ll begin my second review and 3rd experience with Sunday’s choice for a Miami-Cuban lunch. After many years of having a casual Sunday brunch at La Carreta in Miami, this Sunday called for tradition. We went to our nearby restaurant called Havana South, near Buford, and about 30 minutes Northeast of Downtown Atlanta.
I will start with all the good things this place has going. As far as atmosphere and setting, this place is not only just like Miami, it is actually better than a few places back in the MIA. Congrats! The window tints have to go though, from outside it looked like the place was closed, and in Miami we sacrifice value for looks, get some Venetian blinds and you will rock the look!
The best part of this Cuban food in Atlanta experience is that 3 of us went. Yes, 3 Cuban-Americans, though more American than we are Hispanic, we know Cuban food, believe me.
My wife shared the “chuleta” (pork chop) with our daughter. She asked for a side of “moros” (black beans and riced cooked toghether) and “tostones” (fried green plantains). Funny thing is, they offered white or yellow rice and she was like, “moros”??? Yes, they had some. They ordered their favorite Miami drink flavored after Cuban soda. It’s called “Materva”. Try it, you can thank her later. lol.
I really put this cook to the challenge though. The experience so far was so good I went with a traditional, very Cuban food, and usually only home cooked “ropa vieja” (pulled beef in a tomato base sauce). I backed that up with “moros” as well, but did “maduros” which is fried plantain also, but made from ripe plantains instead of green ones; same banana, different stage. “Tostones” is green and goes good with a bit of salt and garlic oil. “Maduros” are ripe and sweet and go alone.
We were excited! The staff was friendly and had that easy going Miami character found in only the best spots! Congrats again! They were not Cuban, and that didn’t matter. They are not always Cuban in Miami either.
Now comes the Cuban food in Atlanta. My “ropa vieja” and “moros” looked perfect. Had the right portions and I could finally say that Atlanta has Cuban food. The “maduros” tasted excellent, well done Atlanta! My wife’s tostones were also very tasteful, fresh, and cooked just right! Cuban food in Atlanta!
Ok here is the critic on this Atlanta Cuban food, please note this is meant to be constructive as I realize only a mouth familiar with a regional taste could have done it better. And that is a compliment (to) the chef, who was Mexican. This place is not far from getting it right.
First, on the “moros”, I can make better ones with canned Goya beans. These were dry beans, and had no taste. My guess, they don’t cook the beans well until soft, and they just mix unseasoned beans with white rice. The result, hard dry beans bitter on the inside, and tasteless rice overall. Would not order this again. Then, my meat, the “ropa vieja”. All I can say is that I know the ingredients were all correct, and were all there, but I could not taste them? I kept digging into the sauce to get the flavor out of it until finally I just had to add a bit of salt and bingo! There was plenty leftover for lunch the next day and the salt had marinated well with the sauce, it tasted perfect day 2! I recommend it with a grain of salt, no pun intended! lol. The “chuletas” on the other hand had the wrong seasoning. They seasoned it like we do whole pork, which is a good taste, but only for a whole pork so for this pork chop it was way too overpowering. Pork chop should be done with simple light seasonings. But overall well done, and tasted like Cuban food. No leftovers on that.
Finally, we wrapped up our Cuban food in Atlanta challenge with the apple pie of Cuban desserts, a “flan”. It was excellent! I only know of one place in Miami that can do it better, and it’s the best place to get flan in Miami (El Emperador). Congrats a 3rd time! We love it. I’d have a second one if I wasn’t watching my figure. Not only was it Miami, good, it was Cuban grandma Good!
Check out Havana South on Buford Highway neat Mall of Georgia and mention you want to try the foods on this post! You will have a Cuban food in Atlanta experience. I promise it will be a like drive down to Miami on many levels. And as for the crew at Havana South, thank you and see you again real soon!
Cuban Man vs. Cuban Food