To start, I am so sorry for the bluriness of these pictures. I was starving and too excited about eating. I think I actually ate some of the above thingies before I took the picture. So keep that in mind when being disgusted by my horrible photog skills.
Cuba Linda Café is tucked in amongst the numerous restaurants and retail stores near Todos Santos Plaza and Brenden Theatres in Concord. The space, although seemingly tiny from the outside, feels light and airy inside. The yellow walls, mosaic tile work and ceiling fans all bring to mind a Latin climate, and the cafe stayed remarkably cool on the hot night we popped inside. A woman, who I presumed to be the owner or manager, was visibly making an effort to make sure everything ran smoothly and the customers were happy, a gesture I appreciate, especially with spanking brand new restaurants.
Cuba Linda offers a few choices of Latin wines and Tropical beers, as well as house-made sangria. But being a giant child and adamant denier of my lactose-intolerance, I went with the mango batido, a kind of Cuban milkshake. It was thick and creamy (I know, gross descriptors) but it really was delicious and refreshing without just sitting in my stomach and forming this disgusting milkshake baby. It didn't feel heavy. We ordered the mariquitas to start, but the kitchen was out and the owner suggested we try the bollitos instead. At least I think we got the bollitos subbed. They came out piping hot from the kitchen. I mean crazy hot. The "Cuban hushpuppies" are fritters made from black-eyed peas and seasoned with lime juice. They were huge and comforting, with a nice crispy outside and soft, potato-like inside. Neither D nor I really understood the dipping sauce. It tasted like a strong tangy lemon butter, but hey, once again...could totally be authentic. I had a picture of them but Blogger is being a bitch and deleting my shit when I copy and paste, so I'll have to add it back in later.
Ever since Eat Real Fest last year I haven't been able to get this Cuban sandwich off my mind. I don't even know who made it! And I think I've talked about it on here before. That's how obsessed I am with it. So naturally, I ordered the Sandwich Cubano, a completely unhealthy but satisfying combination or roast pork, ham, swiss, dill pickles, butter, and mustard. I don't even like half those things, but together they form this delicious gooey sandwich, with the bite of the mustard and pickles cutting through the fattiness of the pork and the cheese. While it didn't live up to my memories of that Cuban sandwich that haunts my dreams, I doubt that even the original sandwich could live up to my inflated expectations.
D ordered the Pan con Bistek, a sandwich crafted from thin marinated sirloin steak, sautéed onions and shoestring potatoes. One day I need him to just write down his own experience in here, because all I can ever remember is that he thought it was "good." Both sandwiches came with mariquitas (I think?), which were chip-like, crispy fried plantians. And more dipping sauce! I think this one was a garlic sauce, but I still don't understand it. My palate is uncultured. All in all, I loved the space and the feel of it, the food was outstanding, fairly cheap, and I left overly full with plenty for lunch the next day. If you're in the area, it's definitely worth stopping by, since it's a nice departure from the American food of EJ Phair and Tower Grille, and you can't eat sushi everyday, can you (don't answer that)?
Cuba Linda Cafe
1909 Salvio St., Concord