Sol Cubano, located in North Highlands, enjoys a unique niche in the restaurant scene, as it's the ONLY Cuban restaurant in the greater Sacramento area. There are a few restaurants which server Caribbean cuisine, which is similar, but only Sol Cubano serves authentic Cuban cuisine...
As with all of reviews that I publish, I have no affiliation with the restaurant reviewed, and there is no monetary gain on my part, as I am simply a person who likes to eat, and I love to write-up, and publish my dining experiences.
Photo: It's a little past 12 in the afternoon on Saturday, July 28, 2018, and my friend Linda Barrere and I are eager to enjoy our first taste of Cuban cuisine at Sol Cubano, in North Highlands. The restaurant is located in a small strip mall, and offers plenty of easy, free parking.
Photo: As you enter, you're greeted with a small desert case, which offers a variety of Cuban deserts for in-store dining, or take-out, along with a small pastry case. Cedric, our waiter, smiles in the background, as I snap the photo. The restaurant is very informal, as you seat yourself at any open table. When we first arrived, the restaurant was empty, but by the time we were finished, the restaurant was nearly full. I guess fans of Cuban cuisine prefer a late lunch...
Photo: A "walk-in" view of the main dining room, with the large "Sol Cubano" painting that dominates the room.
Photo: Here's the full menu. Since the restaurant opens at 10 in the morning, there are a few breakfast choices on the menu. My friend Linda and I had never enjoyed Cuban cuisine before today's visit, so she opted for the "Sampler Plate," and I chose the "Lechon Asado." More on our food later in this article...
Photo: After we were seated, and placed our orders, I had some time to wander and take a photo or two, including a photo of the semi-open kitchen. I absolutely LOVE to take kitchen photos!
Photo: The main dining room is of a modest size, but very clean, comfortable and nicely decorated. At 12:30 in the afternoon, we were the only diners seated, but 30 minutes later, the dining room was packed. I suppose those who savor Cuban cuisine prefer a late lunch?
Photo: Meet Cedric, our friendly, knowledgeable and attentive server, who brought our order to the table with a smile. Linda and I confessed that neither of us had enjoyed Cuban cuisine before, and he was happy to answer all our questions, and point us in the right direction.
Photo: Thanks, Cedric, for snapping the photo of Linda and I smiling - me... sort of - as we're ready to embark on our first foray into Cuban cuisine.
Photo: Before today, I had never enjoyed Cuban cuisine, so I was a complete novice, but I wanted to enjoy the "quintessential" dish in Cuban cuisine. Cedric, or server, recommenced "Lechon Asado."
I posed the question to Cedric, "If you were visiting the United States for the first time, and you asked me what would be the most "typical" American lunch, what would you want me to recommend to you?" My answer: "Hamburger and fries, steak and baked potatoes or fried chicken." I reversed the question to him, and he recommended #12 on the "Lunch and Dinner" menu, which is "Lechon Asado." That's what I ordered...
"Lechon Asado" is Cuban style roasted pork, marinated in garlic mojo criollo sauce, and then roasted, and topped with onion slices. It's served with Cuban rice, which is dark brown rice with black beans and a side salad, which seemed to be dressed in vinegar and oil.
Definitely a new experience for me, in the culinary department! The entire lunch was cooked to perfection, and the meat was juicy, savory and not at all spicy, as I had envisioned. I was truly dazzled and amazed to find black beans in my rice but it was a pleasant surprise. "Lechon Asado" proved to be a very interesting Caribbean dining experience.
Photo: Linda chose the "Sampler Plate," as like me, she's never experienced Cuban cuisine before. I was definitely tempted to choose a sampler as well, but we figured we could just pick off each other's plates so it all worked out.
The "Sampler Plate" includes choice of one meat - Linda chose Ropa Vieja, which is shredded beef in tomato sauce, croquettes, Papa Rellena - mashed potato ball stuffed with ground beef - Tostones, which are thick pieces of plantain, flattened and fried, served with fried yucca, Cuban toast, and a green salad. There were a couple of sauces on the side for dipping or for salad dressing. Naturally, the dish includes a quintessential side of Cuban rice.
We sort of "mixed and matched" our food, so we both got a pretty good idea of what Cuban cuisine is all about. We loved it!
Photo: I passed on dessert, but Linda ordered a cup of Cuban coffee and a slice of flan for dessert. Check out the small size of the "cup" of Cuban coffee, in reference to Linda's hand.
Sorry, I don't care for flan, as it's too sweet for me, but I took a bite of the flan and it was as good as flan gets, at least in my book. The Cuban coffee as a surprise for me, as I've never seen coffee served in a small cup like this. I had quizzed Linda why she didn't order coffee to be served with our lunch, and now I know why, as this is a dessert.
I took a taste of it, and it was even more bitter than espresso, but Linda loved every drop of it, and ate every bit of her flan. As my mother used to say, "There is no accounting for taste..."
Now I can add another variety of exotic cuisine to my "I Done It" restaurant list. The food is definitely "Cuban" and delicious, the staff is friendly, and the dining is a lot of fun. When you're looking to take a trip to Cuba, via delicious cuisine and you don't want to leave the greater Sacramento area, Sol Cubano is your Cuban restaurant.
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