search

Spice Up Your Life with Cuban Cuisine



You don't have to be Cuban to enjoy what their cuisine has to offer. Whether you opt for the traditional Cuban sandwich, the popular mojo pork, the necessary black beans and rice, ropa vieja and other tasty staples such as the decadent pastelitos, you can't go wrong.

Havana Harry's takes choices to a new level with fresh ingredients and a host of tempting choices, while old favorites such as The Floridian have been winning awards - and tempting palates - with a host of sandwiches and sides since they opened in 1993. Another favorite is Tangelo's Grille where you can pick up an array of tasty brunch options along with Cuban staples. 

A not-to-be-missed hole-in-the-wall favorite is Barracuda where you'll find an array of selections including sweet cakes and pastries. Downtown St Pete is where you'll find the ever - popular Bodega, which has been dishing up favorites to locals and visitors alike since 2013.

Then, of course, Columbia restaurants, in several locations are always a top choice.


Advertisement

10
St. Petersburg
Caribbean Cafe
Photo courtesy of M. Richmond


Located in a small strip on Central Ave. the Caribbean Café offers tasty Cuban fare, while providing a pleasant break from the outside world. The soothing décor is the perfect backdrop for the specialties served there. As you might expect, the Cuban sandwich with the typical fixings is a popular choice, as is the Cuban pork and cheese sandwich, but you'll also find an ample selection of lighter salads, soup, crab cakes and more. Dessert offerings include flan - plain and coconut - vanilla custard with caramel sauce and tasty cookies. Ask Jimmy, the owner for menu suggestions as well as their history.

Recommended for Cuban because: The menu offers a good selection and the atmosphere offers a nice break from the hustle and bustle.

Michelle's expert tip: Order the combos which include a sandwich, black beans, rice and a side of chopped onions.

Read more about Caribbean Cafe →


9
Treasure Island
The Floridian
Photo courtesy of M. Richmond


The awards lining the walls are testament to their tasty cuisine, but the real proof comes when you sink your teeth into their award-winning Cuban sandwich. Loaded with ham, spiced pork, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, dill pickle, mustard and a tasty mayo mix on pressed Cuban bread, it's a great choice. The Floridian has been serving palate-pleasing cuisine to locals since 1993, offering a varied array of favorites that includes black beans and yellow rice, Cuban toast, spiced pork sandwiches and more. You'll also find tasty guava and cheese pastries for dessert. For special occasions, you can't go wrong with their party trays and a selection of Cuban finger sandwiches.

Recommended for Cuban because: The location on Treasure Island is perfect for getting to the beach when you're done.

Michelle's expert tip: Order one of their combos and you'll get half a sandwich with a serving of black beans and rice or soup.

Read more about The Floridian →


8
St. Petersburg
Tangelo's Grille
Photo courtesy of M Richmond


Located in one of the area's most charming areas, Tangelo's has dished up a wide selection of Cuban fare since it first opened in downtown St Petersburg in 1987. It's also one of the few places in the area where you can get brunch on weekends. Leading the list of favorites are the porky Cuban and TG Cuban sandwiches. The chicken mojo is another winner as are the TG coconut curry rice bowls. For dinner, roasted Cuban style pork is a crowd pleaser. Desserts offer key lime, peanut butter and Mounds coconut cream pies. For brunch, tacos, sandwiches and nachos lead the list along with the island custard French toast, which features cream cheese and guava. You can also get American classics such as eggs and waffles along with an assortment of coffees, mimosas and sangrias.

Recommended for Cuban because: The location is charming, the food is fresh and tasty and the area itself is charming.

Michelle's expert tip: Try the chicken mojo sandwich - it's one of the favorites.

Read more about Tangelo's Grille →


Advertisement
Havana Harry's Market 2
Photo courtesy of M Richmond

This newest addition to Havana Harry's just opened in July 2016 a few miles from the original and is already drawing rave reviews. The underlying theme here is "family," and "fresh, healthy food." This family-owned restaurant spares no detail when it comes to delivering tasty Cuban cuisine with all the trimmings. A perennial favorite is the Cuban sandwich with smoked ham, mojo pork, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, pickles, mayo and mustard. For lighter fare, try the 1904 Cuban tossed salad with lettuce, tomatoes, smoked ham, Swiss cheese, Spanish olives, asiago pepper, lemon and house dressing. Soups are also a hit including garbanzo or chicken and kale - all made from scratch. For special occasions, clients suggest ordering the whole salmon with raspberry chipotle dressing.

Recommended for Cuban because: The original Harry's opened in 2011 and was such a hit that Harry's 2 had to follow.

Michelle's expert tip: Be sure to try the black beans and rice.

Read more about Havana Harry's Market 2 →


Tia's Authentic Latin Food
Photo courtesy of Tia's Authentic Latin Cuisine

This laid-back family-owned restaurant has been around for awhile and is a favorite with locals, as well as savvy tourists who crave authentic Latin American cuisine. The Cuban Reuben gets rave reviews with the addition of sauerkraut, instead of pickles to the mix. Empanadas also lead the list of top sellers. For dinner the slow roasted pernil (pork) roasted in garlic, mojo and home-made dressings is a sure winner. Daily specials and award-winning Cuban wine and beer add to the mix. For breakfast, there's a selection of eggs, burritos, Cuban coffee and toast. Tia herself is usually on hand to greet customers.

Recommended for Cuban because: It offers up tasty home-style cooking in a casual atmosphere and is popular with everyone.

Michelle's expert tip: For a new twist, try the Cuban Reuben. Instead of the usual pickles, you'll find sauerkraut - a nice addition to the traditional sandwich.

Read more about Tia's Authentic Latin Food →


5
St. Pete Beach
Barracuda Deli Cafe
Photo courtesy of M. Richmond

You might not expect a restaurant with such a name to be home to delicious Cuban and Mexican cuisine, but that's just one of the pleasant surprises you'll find at Barracuda. Tucked into the proverbial hole-in-the-wall on St Pete Beach, you'll find an ample selection of pressed Cuban sandwiches, tacos, wraps and salads. Pork is marinated overnight and slowly cooked in a mojo sauce. The Best Cuban is a favorite as are the spicy pinto and black beans. On the lighter side you'll find fresh salads and wraps. Side dishes include guacamole, chips and salsa and a freshly made soup of the day.

Recommended for Cuban because: It's just a small hole in the wall but the food offerings are incredible.

Michelle's expert tip: Be sure to try their changing variety of homemade tres leches cakes.

Read more about Barracuda Deli Cafe →


Columbia Restaurant - SandKey


A Florida tradition - in various locations - since Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez Sr opened his first restaurant in 1905 in Tampa's Ybor City, Columbia restaurants are still owned and operated by the family's fourth and fifth generations. Daiquiris, mojitos, margaritas and sangrias pave the way to a varied dining experience which includes Cuban mainstays such as: black bean soup, gazpacho, Cuban sandwiches, mojo chicken and more. Chicken croquettes, stuffed piquillo peppers and pork roast a la Cubana are additional hits. Desserts including flan, mango mousse cake, churros, key lime pie and more are sure to satisfy the most discerning sweet tooth.

Recommended for Cuban because: Columbia restaurants are a long-standing tradition in Florida and offer authentic Cuban fare.

Michelle's expert tip: Be sure to try the white chocolate bread pudding. It's a family favorite.

Read more about Columbia Restaurant - SandKey →


3
St. Petersburg
Bodega
Photo courtesy of Michelle da Silva Richmond

It may not look like much, but this hole-in-the-wall walk-up eatery tucked into downtown St Petersburg's Edge District is a "must" for anyone in search of fresh - and delicious - Cuban cuisine. Choose from a surprising selection of sandwiches, salads, sides and main dishes such as their legendary roasted pork (lechón) and coconut-marinated roasted chicken breast. The Miami-style Cuban sandwich features pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mayo on pressed Cuban bread. The popular pollo (chicken) sandwich features a coconut-marinated grilled breast with avocado, mango and jicama, adding a surprising crunch to the experience. Coffee selections include typical Cuban choices.

Recommended for Cuban because: Once you see the long lines, you'll understand why it's such a popular place for a quick bite.

Michelle's expert tip: Be sure to visit their juice bar next door where you'll find an assortment of freshly squeezed juices and smoothies.

Read more about Bodega →


2
St. Petersburg
Habana Cafe
Photo courtesy of Habana Cafe


Visitors and locals alike rave about the old country Cuban cuisine you can treat yourself to at the Habana Café. Tucked into charming Gulfport, it's a favorite with locals and tourists alike. Whether you select appetizers such as the tasty lechón asado, the drunken shrimp or go for mainstays such as the palomilla steak sandwich with grilled onions or the arroz con pollo - tender chicken cooked with Valencia rice in beer and wine, seasoned with fresh garlic, cumin, oregano, bell peppers and chopped onions - you can't go wrong.The atmosphere is sheer Havana and the Latin music is a plus.

Recommended for Cuban because: Not only is the food delicious, but the atmosphere is authentic, evoking old Havana.

Michelle's expert tip: For dessert try their signature cheese flan. It's the "real deal."

Read more about Habana Cafe →


1
St. Petersburg
Pipo's Cafe
Photo courtesy of Pipo's Cafe


This family-owned St. Petersburg landmark has been consistently dishing up tasty Cuban fare since 1979, garnering top marks as one of the best in the area. Signature sandwiches such as palomilla steak - a tasty combination of grilled and breaded steak topped with parsley and grilled onions - or entrées such as mojo pollo - marinated chicken breast with onions, peppers and cilantro - are favorites. Desserts include the typical flan and arroz con leche. Breakfasts aren't too shabby either with choices ranging from Cuban toast and guava pastries to a selection of tortillas (omelets) all served with fresh Cuban bread.

Recommended for Cuban because: It's been on the scene since 1979 and is known as one of the best Cuban restaurants in the area.

Michelle's expert tip: Be sure to try Pipo's pork sandwich.

Read more about Pipo's Cafe →


Map

Meet Michelle da Silva Richmond

Michelle da Silva Richmond is an award-winning travel editor and member of the Society of American Travel Writers and other journalism organizations. 

She has written hundreds of articles...  More About Michelle

×