We are headed back to Miami’s Little Havana for dinner Wednesday evening, to a place highly recommended by a local guy and the valet. It is called Versailles, like the famous palace. From their website: Originally, the site was about Florida fishing and we covered a few Cuban topics,” Lindgren says. “Soon, people started writing in asking if we had a certain Cuban food recipe. We obviously had many recipes of our own, and we’d also ask family and friends for their recipes. Soon we had a large and growing collection.”
The Three Guys are on a mission: to preserve and promote Cuban culture! They provide Cuban cooking tips and advice for professional and amateur chefs all over the world. Their recipes have been included in several cookbooks, newspapers, and national magazines. They also have made several appearances on the Food Network, were featured in a Public television documentary, have appeared on the Travel Channel, and are frequent guests on public radio.
According to everything I read about it, Versailles is THE place in Little Havana for authentic Cuban food. Founded in 1971, it also serves as a gathering point for Anti-Castro demonstrations. The restaurant and its bakery extend a block long between 35th and 36th Streets. Besides the restaurant, they have a full take out counter complete with Cuban coffee, a bakery and cafe, and free parking for about a hundred cars. It looks like the local Cuban men hang out there and talk, just like in Havana.
So, we headed there for dinner on Wednesday evening. We were so surprised to see the magnitude of this business. We were seated quite quickly, and waited on by a rather droll Cuban man named Blas.
We were told to start with mojitos and the appetizer sampler. That could have been dinner! We had fried yucca (just like in the Amazon), plantains, ham turnovers, and croquettes. Then, I had the braised beef tongue, and Sheri the chicken with onions. We both got red beans and rice as a side dish. Mine also came with some really sweet fried plantains.
Problem was, my rice and beans were already mixed, and Sheri’s were separate, like I prefer it. So, we exchanged rice and we were both happy. Beef tongue is just too rich to combine with a big platter of red beans and rice. It calls for plain white rice to soak up the gravy. Too stuffed for dessert, we stopped at their bakery for a morning goodie.
I would rate Cuban food above Chilean food any day of the week. Their menu is huge with many seafood items, as well as pig’s feet, hog jowls, chicken liver, and tripe. It is definitely the land of the free and home of the iron stomach. And our car was intact upon returning to it in the parking lot. I figured the parts would be sent to Cuba for those ingenious Cuban mechanics. But the guard told me the cars in the parking lots were too new for Cuba.