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Friday, May 25, 2012

Food Friday: Back To Cuba

This Saturday night it was my turn to plan a date for the boy. I wanted something exotic, in my price range, and something that he has never had before. We crossed the river and went to Back to Cuba!

I am far from an expert on Cuban food. I know I love rice, beans and plantains.  When those goodies are the sides on any dish, I'm pretty much guaranteed to like it. When I lived up north, I had Cuban food pretty often, my favorite being Habana Outpost in Brooklyn (mostly for how cool their outdoor seating is). I didn't even know there was any Cuban in Nashville until friends took me to Back To Cuba a few years ago. We have ONE Cuban place in Nashville to my knowledge, and thank goodness its pretty tasty.
Steve anticipates Cuban goodness

Back to Cuba is a cafe and not a restaurant.  It is very small, with just a hand full of tables.  Nothing is fancy, don't expect tablecloths and linen napkins. You order your food at the counter, they hand you a ticket, and you pay that ticket at the register when you are done eating.  When the food is ready they find you and bring it out to your table.  This process is a tad bit confusing, I had been there before and forgot the process. Also, some ladies came in after us and couldn't figure out how things worked.  But friendly diners are quick to offer tips on the ordering process.

We started out by munching on a beef empanada.  The crust was perfect, golden, light and flaky.  Inside the meat was deliciously spiced.  I can't remember the last time I had a fresh friend empanada. Oh! We ordered one and split it but I could have easily eaten my own.

Did I mention the juice? Back to Cuba offers a wide variety of juices as well as milkshake options.  I felt guilty ordering a milkshake with my meal, so I opted for juice. I ordered the guanabana and the boy ordered the mango. I first had guanabana juice in Costa Rica and fell in love.  I ordered it at least twice a day and wanted to even take some home on the plane. I rarely ever find guanabana at restaurants, but  when I do I have to order it. I highly recommend taking a chance on an ugly looking fruit!

For dinner we ordered two entrees and split them. I'm personally a big fan of food sharing, this way everyone gets to taste something new and delicious.  First up is the skirt steak with chimmichurri sauce served with rice, beans and tostones. The meat was well done- I prefer it more on the rare side, but hey, I forgot to say that with my order so its my fault.  The chimmichurri had just a tad bit of heat that worked well with the nice sear on the steak. There tostones might have been my favorite. I never order them because I never like them as much as friend plantains, and they tend to be dry and greasy.  BTC's tostones had FLAVOR and minimum grease. Oh, the beans were ok. Not much to say on those. But the rice is pretty tasty.

The other dish was flash fried white fish in a spicy mango salsa with salad, rice and friend plantains. I have never met a fried plantain that I didn't like, and BTC's are no exception. The salad was just some pieces of iceberg lettuce and a tomato slice. Very boring compared to how flavorful everything else was. The fish was my personal favorite and a meal standout.  Listed as a special, we didn't really know what we would be getting. "Salsa tropical" sounded delicious.  But the sauce was mango bits and whole bunch of spice.  It had a lovely kick, much spicier than the steak.  I put that sauce all over the rice and it was so delicious. Oh, and the fish was fried perfectly. Once again, not greasy and very crisp.

Back to Cuba is worth it.  Hell, its the only Cuban place in town! Take someone on a date there and you won't be disappointed.
Back To Cuba Cafe on Urbanspoon

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