Story, photos by Cassie Hepler
There’s some sort of teleportation device inside Cuba Libre.
No, seriously. It’s as if you step inside and immediately are transported into Cuba. Don’t take our word for it. Take sous chef Angel Rafael Roque Gomez, an esteemed blue-eyed, blond haired Cuban Chef now working with Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernot.
“It feels like home here,” said Gomez. “And we try to make the food taste that way too.”
Rolling out some seasonal new menu items just in time for summer dining, this Cuban restaurant is a staple in the city known for its amazing happy hour specials (Monday through Friday, 5-7 p.m.) and Latin dancing on Saturday nights. And if Old City is too much for you to handle, try the spacious and accommodating location in Atlantic City at Tropicana.
Taking away some of the heavier fried fall and winter foods, the chefs are featuring grilled meats and seafood, barbecue glazed ribs, unique twists on classic (unlimited!) brunch items, flavorful empanadas and salads that incorporate seasonal vegetables.
“For me, summer is the best time for grilling, enjoying tropical cocktails, and sharing meals with friends and family, which was the inspiration for this summer menu,” said Chef Pernot. “I’m so excited to introduce new, seasonal menu items and bring back some old favorites (likeGuava BBQ Ribs), and I know that guests will enjoy all that Cuba Libre’s new menu has to offer, and feel just as if they were dining out in Old Havana.”
If all of the names and foreign Spanish words seem just too much for you and you forgot your phone or Lonely Planet mini phrase book, you can always order the 15 Tastes of Cuba for $42.95 per person, you get to eat small portions of Chef Guillermo Pernot’s culinary favorites, no decision making needed. Or go for the unlimited version, Cuba Libre’s weekend brunch (offered Saturdays and Sundays starting at 10:30 a.m.), an extensive menu of items available a la carte or as part of the all-you-can-eat Unlimited Tapas Brunch for $28, and includes the new Chocolate Waffle, a chocolate-yogurt waffle with fresh sliced bananas, citrus-maple syrup and whipped yogurt. Then you can eat/explore without feeling like an uncultured dummy.
The lunch menu, available weekdays from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., features new items like the Gazpacho Chicken Salad, with citrus marinated, pulled roasted chicken, romaine, grape tomatoes, red onion, seedless cucumber, piquillo peppers and Cuban bread croutons, and served with Gazpacho vinaigrette; and the Miami Frita, a ground beef, pork and Spanish chorizo burger on a brioche roll with lettuce, tomatoes, “Frita” sauce, mustard and shoestring yuca. The lunch menu includes items a la carte or available in three-course “Rápido Lunch” combination plates.