900 Catherine St
Key West, FL 33040
Key West. Just saying those words conjures up visions of island breezes, tarpon fishing on the flats, and staring across the open ocean to Cuba. So close, and yet so far. So, it’s a wonder that most of the tourists to this Florida island frequent places like the Hard Rock Cafe or IHOP, when there is such a great Cuban culinary heritage waiting to be discovered.
El Siboney Restaurant (the name comes from a tribe of Indians from Cuba) is a place to hang out with the locals, eat some great Cuban chow, and pretend that you are 90 miles south. Most of the diners are locals, the food is inexpensive, and the portions are huge. Add to that the smiling waitresses, the great aromas, and the many statues and pictures of Indian chiefs, and El Siboney Restaurant is well worth the trek off busy Duval Street for lunch or dinner.
While the menu is vast, don’t forget that El Siboney offers specials for every day of the week. Each day features a different soup and entrée (amazing, thick Lima Bean soup on Wednesdays and Saturdays, chicken and yellow rice on Fridays.) Each special includes your choice of yellow or white rice, and Platanos Maduros, the wonderfully sweet and carmelized pieces of plantain that are such a mainstay of island fare.
For a fun Cuban starter, check out the tostones ($3.75), small, crunchy rounds of plantain that have been smashed flat, and then fried. They are served with a tangy bowl of vinegary onion pieces, and you will likely see them on all the locals’ tables. Make sure to shake a good dose of hot sauce on each bite, and wash it down with a cold beer. Add a side of Moros ($2.95), a mixture of black beans, onions, peppers and rice, for a complete meal.
Most entrées are between ten and twelve bucks, usually hanging over the edge of the plate. You will NOT walk away hungry from this place. If you are a fan of Cuban food, you will find all your favorites, lots of pork dishes (puerco asado and masas de puerco fritas) and lots of grilled and fried fish. If you think of it far enough in advance, call the chef at least an hour before your arrival and order the paella. It is done in the Valencia style and is only $19.95/person. Go try and find that at the Hard Rock Cafe!
Just Good Eats © 2011