Ok . . . I admit it. I cheated on Mart! And I’m not ashamed. In fact, I cheated on him twice in one day!
No, not what you’re thinking, but to him, it may be just as bad. You see . . . I went to a new restaurant, Rincon Cubano, without him. And not only did I enjoy a delicious lunch without him . . . but I ordered dinner too! Will he ever forgive me?
If there is someone else to blame for my transgression, I’m pinning that blame on my friend and fellow Junior Leaguer, Cady Ferguson. In fact . . . if it wasn’t for Cady sending an email almost demanding I drop everything and head over to Rincon Cubano for a Cuban sandwich (because hers was the absolute best, most wonderful Cuban sandwich she’d ever had), I may have never known the new restaurant existed! Ok, that’s unlikely because this place is going to get a lot of buzz.
Only open a little over two months, Rincon Cubano is found on the northeast corner of Honore Avenue and 17th Street, just south of The Meadows. But, from my experience living in the Miami area for almost 20 years, Rincon Cubano could have been in Little Havana. It transported me back to fond memories of food that is demasiado bueno para ser verdad. (too good to be true!)
One of the few regrets I’ve had since moving back to Sarasota in 2005 (and there are very few), is there are so few Cuban restaurants. When you live in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, eating Cuban food is something many of us do 3-4 times a month! Not only is the food delicious, but it is typically affordable, unique in taste, usually quick to the table and did I say delicious? I cannot count the number of late night meals I enjoyed at Puerto Sagua on South Beach after a late night of clubs and dancing. Oh to be young again!
So while Mart was on his way to Athens, Georgia helping his daughter and son-in-law move, I drove past Ricon Cubano and told myself we should go there when he came home. But then I drove past it again after dropping a client off, and my car — I swear it was my car — drove into the parking lot and parked. What was I to do?
Ricon Cubano looks and smells exactly as I would hope. There’s a bar at the front entrance that probably hosts Latin music at night, and a spacious dining room with room for large tables of family and friends. It was late for lunch, but there were a few folks finishing their meals and ordering up Cuban coffee, another thing you rarely find in Sarasota . . .at least until NOW! What to do. . . What to do? Should I go with the Media Noche, similar to a Cuban sandwich with roast pork, deli ham, swiss cheese, pickles and dressing n a toasted sweet roll, (vs. the bread of a Cuban sandwich)? It was only $5.05 . . . OR . . . should I spoil myself and order the Thursday special, a pork fricase with black bean, rice, Cuban toast and sweet plantains (yucca is an option)?
OR . . . since I’m being bad, should I go full tilt and order BOTH! You already know what I did. In for a penny, in for a pound.
So here’s the good thing about my visit to Rincon Cubano. I was happy. So happy to taste food that took me back to precious memories of meals shared with friends while a younger, carefree girl in Miami. I was thrilled with the quality of the food, the size of the portions and the economical price. However. . . and here’s the negative . . . there was only one of me dining, so I can only tell you about the meal I had, and Ricon Cubano deserves better than that. It deserves repeat visits, not only by me, but anyone who enjoys Cuban cuisine.
Knowing my single lunch wouldn’t give you much exposure to the dining experience at Rincon Cubano, I put my dietary restrictions aside and thought about our SarasotaFoodies readers . . . (this blog is all about you, isn’t it?) I did order a Media Noche sandwich to be enjoyed later that day, and more than one colleague at Coldwell Banker stopped by my office door asking “what smells so good?” when I carried my precious cargo into my office.
My thoughts on the Media Noche hours later? Delicioso! Increíble! I popped it in the microwave for 30 minutes to re-melt the cheese, and then let it rest on the cutting board just long enough to snap a photo. No longer. Did I give it the food styling of the restaurant? No . . . but my taste buds didn’t care. It was crunchy goodness on the outside and the perfect blend of meats, cheese, pickles and memories on the inside. I was transported! If you’re going to cheat on someone with a sandwich, this is the way to go.
What can I say? If loving Cuban food is wrong, I don’t wanna be right. I am forever addicted!