Saturday night we were looking to try something a little different. Our tasted buds were begging for a surprise! So I decided to take my wife for a traditional Cuban meal. Now I am not Cuban but I have heard from a couple of my Cuban friends at my lodge that the Gusto Cuban Cafe is the real deal! So it was time for Omaha Yum to pay them a visit!
So first off, what are the characteristics of Cuban cuisine? According to Hector Rodriguez the author of Cuban Food Profile: Cuban Food History - "Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisine. Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish and African cooking, with some influence in spice and flavor. This results in a unique, interesting and flavorful blend of the several different cultural influences. A small, but noteworthy, Chinese influence can also be accounted for, mainly in the Havana area. During colonial times, Cuba was an important port for trade, and many Spaniards who lived there brought their culinary traditions along with them."
Well after having my first Cuban meal, I can tell you that the combination of influences makes for a explosion of great taste that will please your taste buds. Yes, my lodge brothers were right the Gusto Cuban Cafe is the REAL DEAL! We had a great meal in little cafe that made you feel like you were dinning 90 miles south of Miami, despite being 4 degree out.
We started our experience with a round of drinks. Now the Gusto Cuban Cafe has a full bar with a large selection of drinks, but I knew before I walked in the door, I was having a traditional Mojito! A Mojito is traditionally made of five ingredients: white rum, sugar or sugar cane juice, lime juice, sparkling water and mint. The Mojito is one of my favorite summer time drinks! They are a cold refreshing drink that blends the sweet, the tart and the mint flavor to make an incredible drink. I have had some good Mojito's, but I can tell your hands down, the Gusto Cuban Cafe makes the BEST Mojito's anywhere! My Wife ordered a Banana Mojito, which is basically the same drink with a nice banana flavor added on top. I am looking forward to this summer, and going to the Gusto Cuban Cafe to sit out on their outdoor patio and enjoying a mojito and try one of their nice selection of cigars!
Prior to our dinner coming, our very nice waitress brought out a basket of a bread which was really good. I think it was dusted with a dry cheese and had a real nice flavor. Now their was a bottle of a flavored oil on the table, and I am not sure what it was seasoned with, but WOW - AWESOME!! I think it had garlic, lime, some type of mild pepper and maybe cumin, parsley and thyme in it. OK I forgot to asked what it was called or what was in it, but this was absolutely incredible. To be completely honest, I am not even sure if I was suppose to put it on my bread, but I am going to do it again next time I go there, it was that good. Any way I have sent Roberto an email asking him about the wonderful oil and I will keep you posted! Remember if your see a little bottle of oil with a bunch of seasoning in it, try it!
Now for our main coarse we both order something different and as always we traded taste. My wife ordered the Bistec de Palomilla. The Bistec de Palomilla is a Top sirloin cut thin served with home made french fries and onions. This is the perfect dish for someone that has never had Cuba food and are not very daring. You get a huge thin cut top sirloin that has a real nice flavor but nothing over powering in it. It is topped with fresh white onion and some great thin cut fries. My wife chose for her side white rice, black bean and the plantain. My wife had never had Cuban food and wasn't sure if she would like it, but she has already asked - When are we going back?
I had the Masitas De Cerdo Fritas. The Masitas De Cerdo Fritas is fried marinated morsels of pork. These bite sized morsels of pork and just packed with a tangy flavor. I will certainly recommend these to everyone. You get the tangyness of the marinade along with the crispiness of the fried pork, and WOW what a combo! It is like little meat candies! For my sides I had red beans which were very tender and served in a great bean broth. I also had the congris. Congris is traditional Cuba rice with black beans. I also had the plantain. We both agree that this is the best plantain we have ever had. I have had it other place and I have tried making it at home, but it is never been as tasty and as tender as it was a Gusto's. You have got to try the plantain.
Now here is the deal, we had the bread, a drink and our entree, and we were stuffed! The problem is, we saw people eating incredible looking appetizers, and delectable desserts, but we had no room for them. The only thing I can think of, is to go back! They also have great selection of sandwich's at lunch time! The Gusto's Cuba Cafe was a great find and we will be enjoying this place more in the future.
If your looking for a change of pace and an incredible meal with lots of choices. Stop and see our friends at the Gusto Cuban Cafe and take your taste buds on a wonderful journey!
Gusto Cuba Cafe
7910 Harrison Street
Ralston Nebraska 68128