Issue 2's Restaurant of the Month: La Cubanita. A Cuban Eatery in Tulum
La Cubanita. This brightly colored food cart, serves up some serious Cuban food.
Photos by Diane DiMeo
I know I know. When we think of a restaurant, specifically of a ‘Restaurant of the Month’ restaurant, we tend to visualize a sit-down-restaurant, with all the bells & whistles. Well, long gone are those days, as we have entered the era of ‘good is good, whether it’s from a food truck, restaurant, or freezer section of your local grocery store’. I for one, appreciate that, as does my wallet.
As an avid eater and appreciator of all good things, myself and my partner took a trip to ‘Palma Central’, one of Tulum’s Food truck parks, that caters to adults, dogs, and (a whole lot of) kids. There is a kiddie playground, allowing for the adults to imbibe and gorge themselves while the kids run (SUPER) free among themselves. And who wouldn’t love that?
But I digress, I am here to yap about food. Good food. So without further adieu, I would like to Introduce the new kid on the block: La Cubanita. This brightly colored food cart, serves up some serious Cuban food.
The owners, Kristina & Mario, co-owned a place in Havana for Yoga Retreats, where they would prepare meals for the guests. Prior to that, Christina owned a Travel Agency, and Mario a Civil Engineer. Who knew that life had in store for them to open a food cart in Tulum that slings up one of the best Cuban Sandwiches this side of the world? I’m sure they didn’t.
Their version of the Cuban Sandwich is made with their homemade Cuban style bread, 12-hour roasted pork marinated in a secret adobo family recipe, artisanal ham, Swiss cheese, homemade garlic pickles, mustard and mojo de ajo. It was pressed to perfection, with a crunchy buttery outside, that gave way to a juicy, cheesy, well balanced porky inside. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Of course we had to order the Vegetarian version, as curiosity got the best of us. I mean, braised Jackfruit Cuban Sandwich? I LOVE PORK. Let me make myself clear. I FUCKING LOVE PORK. ‘Let the games begin’ was the only thing going through my head as I saw the plate approach the table. To my utter surprise and shock, The Jackfruit looked EXACTLY like the pork version. We were told, they separate the Jackfruit themselves to make it look like pork, use the same adobo marinade, and braise it for hours. As expected it did not taste like pork, but it was damn tasty. And a GREAT variation for those who don’t enjoy the fatty yum yum porky pork, or just want a meat free day, but still enjoy the deliciousness of a fried cheesy sandwich.
But let’s not just focus on the sandwiches, no. Let’s talk about the Yuca Fries. WTF! Big thick slices of Yuca, so soft and moist on the inside, and crispy delicious on the outside. I mean, these Fries beat the pants off of most if not all of the regular potato fries I have had here in Tulum. The dipping sauce was good - a garlic based cream sauce - and a good compliment, but honestly, the fries didn’t need it. The Taro Fritters were also another WTF! Sooo crispy on the outside, giving way to a purple dense inside, that was both creamy and chewy. The texture was addicting, kind of like that first time you have boba tea. The sauce that accompanied the fritters was a traditional honey based sauce. Not being a fan of honey, avoided it altogether. To end our face stuffing meal, we ordered the Ham Croquettes. Being as full as we were, we were only able to eat a few bites of them. That said, they were delicious. Crispy, creamy, hammy (is that even a word?!) yum yums, washed down with an amazing cup of cuban style coffee, that was reminiscent of coffee candy.
The best part? Every dish is made with love, and are all recipes from family and friends back in Cuba. So if you want to have an amazing dining experience, and get a real taste of a Cuban Sandwich, hit up La Cubanita.
Palma Central’s hours. Thursday through Tuesday 5-11pm.
Tomato.mx for deliveries.
Tulum Eats Magazine is published 12 times a year, unless we decide to go on prolonged vacations. You can find the print magazine at select locations throughout the Riviera Maya, and in some East Coast establishments, where we will randomly place, during selective times. The website will be updated monthly, with selected materials that may or may not be the same as the print version. Look for us soon, in other states of Mexico.