It’s me again… JUST KIDDING! Today we are featuring a ~guest~ blogger, my very own sister and our Director of Merchandising (sounds fancy, right?) Rachel! Sit back, relax, and text your friends to make lunch plans, because after reading this piece that’s exactly what you’ll be wanting to do.
If you follow me on social media (if not you should @ohheyyitsrayy), you know I consider myself to be quite the major foodie. According to Webster’s dictionary, a foodie is defined as “a person with a refined interest in food & who eats food not out of hunger but due to hobby/interest.” In Ray terms, this just means I like to eat good food all the time, and I tend to take an obscene amount of slow motion videos of it. When Mary asked me about doing a guest blog, I was super pumped. I am still somewhat of a Florida newbie (I moved here last May), so I haven’t fully experienced all the amazing food spots that Tampa and the surrounding areas have to offer.
Another thing to know about me, I eat local. I eat small business. Don’t get me wrong, I like McDonalds fries as much as the next person, but when you eat local, you’re supporting a family, a dream, and so much more. Keeping in line with my mantra, for first blog post I chose the Little Habana, a quaint Cuban café, that is also owned by one of our amazing customers, Tanya and her husband Al.
Little Habana is located on Big Bend, right behind Orange Theory and has been owned by the adorable duo since 2009. I brought a fellow foodie, Angelina, along and we arrived at Little Habana around 11 to hopefully avoid the lunch rush. Upon arrival, we discovered there was plenty of parking and even picnic tables outside if you want to have an impromptu picnic lunch! We were greeted and sat promptly, giving us a chance to enjoy the ambiance while we waited for our drinks. There are plenty of tables, booths, and high tops to accommodate guests, and the walls are adorned with colorful framed pictures and vintage Cuban posters.
For our starter, we were given fried plantain chips with their signature cilantro sauce. The first time I had plantains was in Honduras, and they were to DIE for, so my expectations were set pretty high. These plantains exceeded my expectations! I think I ate the majority of them (sorry Angelina). They had just the right amount of crispiness, and I don’t even know how to describe the sauce other than it is truly life changing. I honestly wish I could have bottled up sauce and taken it to go.
Al is also the head chef, and he was the one who came out to take our lunch orders. I loved this because it’s nice to put a face to the person who is cooking your meal, and is another perfect reason to eat local. After looking through a very extensive menu, I chose one of the lunch specials, which was ½ of a Cuban Sandwich (I haven’t met a Cuban sammy I didn’t like), rice, beans, and more plantains. Angelina chose one of their new menu items which was called the Fiesta Bowl.
At this point, the café was filling up with their lunch crowd, many of them regulars. Even with the crowd, we received our food in no time at all. So, a little backstory…ever since I moved back to Florida, I have been on the hunt for the PERFECT Cuban sandwich. I’ve had some pretty decent ones, but they were always missing something. Well, at Little Habana, I found my true love. This Cuban was IT. The bread was warm, crispy, and pressed just right. The ham and pork were juicy and tender , and there was just the perfect amount of mustard. I HATE pickles and I could have eaten a whole jar of the pickles on this sandwich. The rice and beans were the perfect addition to this meal, and the plantains, well I don’t need to write another love story about them. I was so busy stuffing my face, I wasn’t able to try Angelina’s Fiesta Bowl – but she couldn’t stop raving about how delicious it was. Their Fiesta Bowl is essentially a fresher, healthier version of a bowl at a chain restaurant – chopped lettuce, beans, rice, tomatoes, corn salsa, and sliced avocado topped with a spicy seasoned chicken. The portion is so generous – she even had leftovers to take home!
So, if you are searching for some authentic Cuban food, while receiving excellent customer service and supporting a local business, Little Habana is the place to go! If you have any recommendations on where to go next, leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!
13352 Lincoln Rd