Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Little ‘Cuban’ for Lunch

It was a little past lunch time and we were rolling along through southeast Florida… OK, let’s just pick some place that looks both local and promising.  How about that Cuban Restaurant in that mall on the right?  And thusly, we found our lunch spot!

The Las Vegas Restaurants in southeast Florida are the result of the American experience and an immigrant family working hard to succeed!  It all started with the Mariel Boat Lift in 1980.  Antonio Vilarino, his wife Nilda and 5 daughters, along with 126,000 other Cubans, came to America to escape the oppressive Communist regime in their country.  Their goal was freedom for the family and the opportunity for a better life. 

At first, Antonio worked as a gardener and Nilda did laundry in a nursing home.  Their oldest daughters worked as store clerks.  Then the family opened a vegetable stand.  Antonio got a better job…and all of the family’s earnings went into savings for the future.  Then in 1984, Antonio and Nilda, along with their daughters Nilda, Irina, Vilma, Miriam and Carmen used all of their savings, $35,000, and they bought their first restaurant in Hollywood Florida.  Business was tough at first but now there are 13 Las Vegas Restaurants serving Cuban cuisine in southeast Florida!

If this location is any example, the Las Vegas chain consists of attractive, well appointed, warm and welcoming restaurants.  It was around 2 PM when we stopped by, so business was light.  There is patio seating in front of this location but, by East Tennessee standards, it was hot outside and we generally prefer indoor dining.

We really didn’t test the menu.  We were looking for something relatively simple and light to tide us over until dinner with Dawn Marie.  I ordered a Sandwich Cubano, a Cuban sandwich with Serrano ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, roast pork with mayonnaise on crispy toasted Cuban bread. ($7.95) We both had the fried plantains as our side dish and our sandwiches were accompanied with an onion-garlic sauce for dipping.  I like the plantains but I’ve decided that Cubano sandwiches are a little too bland for me…although the dipping sauce helped some.  Nevertheless, it was a large sandwich and they don’t shirk on fresh ingredients.   

We perused the menu at some length as we expect to return to south Florida again over the next few years.  A couple of appetizers intrigued me.  There was the Tamal con Lechon…ground corn wrapped in the husk served with roast pork ($7.95), or the Empanadas…filled with chicken or ground beef. ($4.75)  There were daily lunch specials…with an extensive listing every day, along with 3 different soups and several salads. 

 Laurie ordered the Medianoche or ‘Midnight Sandwich’…consisting of Serrano ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, roast pork with mayonnaise.  It sounds familiar, doesn’t it!  The only difference between our sandwiches was the bread.  Laurie’s sandwich was served on a crispy toasted sweet egg roll. ($7.95) She liked her sandwich very much.  This was a lot of food for the price…

The dinner menu for the Las Vegas restaurants is very extensive.  There are 8 chicken dishes ranging from $9.95 to a combo plate for $19.95.  Four pork entrees ranged from $9.95 to $14.95.  The 9 beef dishes started at $10.95 for the Vaca Frita (fried flank steak) and then on up to the Churrasco (skirt steak) at $17.95.  There are also 8 seafood entrees.  Topping the list is the Paella Valenciana…clams, mussels, scallops and fish on a bed of yellow rice. ($24.95)
We will return to one of the Las Vegas restaurants to try out their dinner menu.  They are open 7 days a week.  The location that we visited is at 2807 East Oakland Park Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale Florida.  Phone: 954-564-1370.  Website:   
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

1 comment:

  1. We'd never heard of a Cuban sandwich until we we driving thru South Miami on our ways to the keys, were very hungry, and saw a strip mall with a fast food joint in it. Nearly everyone went for fast food, but Bev, Eric, and I opted for the hole in the wall we spotted a few doors down. We ordered a Cuban sandwich and have been hooked ever since. I keep threatening to roast a small butt with Cuban spices and make my own.