Saturday, February 20, 2010
"A Lil Taste Of Cuba"
Who knew you could reach Cuba by Harley, in under 30 minutes from Southern Illinois?
Well, Big AL and I did today!
Today is my husband's birthday, and I told him I'd take him out for a nice lunch or supper and he recommended a new small Cuban Diner in Marion, Illinois. I had never eaten Cuban food, and quite honestly didn't even know much about this cuisine, so before we left, I googled "Cuban Food" so I would know what I was getting myself into. Basically, Wikipedia stated that it is a blend of Spanish (NOT Mexican), African and Mediterranean food and the only recipes that sounded familiar to me were plantains and black beans and rice. I also know Ricky Ricardo was Cuban, and Cuba is South of Florida...besides the name of their leader, Castro, I was pretty much in the dark when it comes to my knowledge of anything Cuban.
We braved the chilly temps and my cousin and her husband joined us as we traveled around 20 minutes from our home and pulled up to the tiny establishment. Upon first inspection, I wasn't immediately impressed, however, after noticing the long line and many cars in the parking lot ,I felt was a good sign and we just may have been in for a treat.
When we entered, we discovered there was only seating for 8 people (4 tables for two) as it mainly a carry-out establishment with the added bonus of a few seats.
Next I noticed the cleanliness-EXTREMELY clean , both the dining area, and the kitchen (that could be could viewed from the counter).
We were given a menu filled with dishes I've never tried before but sounded delicious! The smart owners, realizing that Southern Illinoisans are not familiar with Cuban Cuisine) gave detailed descriptions of each dish in the menu and there were photos of each item on the wall to aid in the decision-making process.
I chose THE CUBAN sandwich:
"Slow roasted, mojo marinated pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard, pressed on Cuban bread" ($7.99 for a HUGE sandwich!) and Yuca fries (pronounced yoo-ca) which tasted somewhat like seasoned fries, but not as spicy.($1.99)
Big Al chose the PORK COMBO:
Slow roasted mojo marinated pork (shredded) served with black beans rice and sweet fried plantains. ($7.99)
My cousins enjoyed the same, but Angie ordered a CAFE' CON LECHE (sweet Cuban coffee with milk) that she loved. Her husband Phil said it was the best coffee he had ever tasted!
There were three Cuban sandwiches to choose from, 2 different rice entrees, 4 combos, empanadas , many interesting side dishes , soups and delicious beverages (including non-alcoholic Pina Coladas, Daquiris and Mojitos). Daily specials for those watching their wallets closely, and nothing on the regular menu tops $7.99.
To see more of their menu, click on their website www.alilltasteofcuba.com
Our food was fabulous! Familiar tastes, but perfectly blended flavors. Nothing really spicy or overpowering. Very friendly and quick service and the owners are happy to answer any questions you may have about this interesting cuisine.
They offer catering services for small events.
Hours of operation are: Mon-Thurs. 9-7, Fri.-Sat. 9-4
Closed on Sundays.
Located across from Papa Murphy's in Marion , Illinois, 607 N. Court St. (Rt. 37)
Call ahead, Walk-in-carry out- or dine in if seats are available.
If you are near Southern Illinois, it is SO worth the drive! (Or bike ride).
Enjoy a Lil slice of Cuba and tell em Sherri sent ya!