I am always on the lookout for new Latin food places in Nashville. To my knowledge, we only have one Cuban restaurant in the whole city, Back to Cuba, which is good but due to its cafe feel, it doesn't really count as fine dining. When I heard of a new place on Nolensville Road thanks to the intrepid eating of Sean Maloney from the Nashville Scene, I knew I had to try it. Cuban food, arepas, and fried plantains? I'm there. Guantamera is a mix of Cuban, Peruvian, Venezuelan and Colombian food. While they don't offer a lot from each country, they do offer a nice sampling and there's something for everyone on the menu.
Guantanamera is located in the old La Hacienda building according to Steve, who used to live near there several years ago. The restaurant is clean and simple. The high ceilings and wood beams give the place a nice open feel. There is even a seating area to the right of the main door that has these really cool retro orange 70s style seats. Our servers were friendly and attentive, and even complemented me on my pronunciation of arepa. I totally blushed! I guess all those years of Spanish immersion paid off!
I was personally very excited when I found out they had Guanabana Juice. Guanabana was something I became obsessed with during the summer I lived in Costa Rica and I always get flooded with fond memories when I find it on a menu. (I'm drifting away just thinking about guanabana milkshakes!). To me it has the texture of a banana while tasting a bit more like a pineapple. I highly recommend it!
In a nice change of pace, Guantamera brought out buttered bread as an appitizer instead of the ubiquitous chips and salsa. This was fairly run-of-the-mill bread with butter- nothing special. But it was served warm and fresh, so points for that!
Steve ordered the Picada which came in this lovely bowl. It was a mixture of chorizo, blood sausage, yellow potatoes and fried pork loin with cassava chips on the side. This was a hearty meal of meat. A VERY MANLY MEAT MEAL. Their cassava was fried perfectly and was a great accompaniment to the heaviness of the sausage. Oh and those little golden potatoes were delicious.
We did have one slight issue with service which I would be remiss if I didn't mention. Our order was delivered to another table by mistake, and one person at the other table had also ordered the Picada and immediately dug right in. After the other table and the waitress figured out what happened, we had to wait a bit longer to get our food. While I wasn't a fan of the wait, this stuff happens. Plus, the staff was friendly and apologized for the mix up.
I went for the meal that screamed "This might be your last meal for a while so EAT UP!" This assortment of goodness is the Bandeja Piasa or "Hillbilly plate" which features an assortment of goodies including rice with a fried egg, red beans, chorizo, fried plantain, fried pork belly, and chicharron. Needless to say, I took home some leftovers. The egg was fried perfectly and the yolk covered the rice and the chicharrones. I have to say that their chicharron was my favorite part of the dish! I have never had this style of chicharron outside of a papusa and I was really happy to see how well it held up on its own! The fried plantains were heaven- but I'm sure you all knew that.
I think Guantamera will be a new staple of mine on Nolensville road. I'm planning on heading back to try their arepas next!