Last week La Petite Wasabi had a non-attendance school day so we had the perfect excuse for a lunch date in the middle of the week. She was pretty set on going to eat pizza, but as we were strolling down Smith Street, the cheerful blue walls of Cubana Cafe caught her attention and we decided to go in. Given that it was (very) late lunch, the place was almost empty, with just a couple more people, among them a mom with a little toddler (yes!).
We were sat on a lively teeny yellow table by the window facing Smith Street. The space is tiny, with a little foyer-like area by the windows that basically fits four tiny round tables with two long red benches.The bar, hosting lots of Jarritos bottles (which is Mexican and not Cuban), seems to serve more as a decorative prop than an actual bar as there are no stools to sit and it is located to the left of the space, opposite another row of tables. There are a couple more tables in the back behind the bar, so I can see it getting really crowded. Much better if you avoid a stroller or if you really need one, get a foldable one. The abundance of bright colors makes up for the lack of space: red benches, yellow tables and bright pastel walls. The staff was friendly, although a bit slow.
This establishment claims to be Cuban but it seems to be more of a mix of Latin American fare (guacamole is most definitely not a Cuban dish nor are quesadillas) and some good old brunch items with a Latin twist. They don’t have a kids menu, but as they serve breakfast/brunch until 5pm (with a very affordable deal until 12pm), we had no problem ordering for both of us. We placed our order of drinks (fresh squeezed orange juice for the little one and a Bloody Mary for yours truly) and a couple of brunch items.They brought us a little serving of plantain chips, with two sauces: a green one that seemed to be chimichurri (which La Petite Wasabi loved) and a reddish one that seemed to be tomatillo sauce and that it had a bit of a kick to it. As far as our brunch/late lunch items, we went for the pancakes with fruit and yogurt, which was one big pancake (to La Petite Wasabi’s delight and a bit too floury for my taste, but that it had the perfect crust on the outside) and the Cubana Benedict, an interesting take on the traditional Benedict, with poached eggs and chorizo over toasted Cuban bread and chipotle hollandaise, which I felt could have used more of spice, but I guess the chorizo was supposed to play that role.The Benedict came with a side of rice and black beans, which I felt lacked a bit in taste. I have to say that the Bloody Mary was spicy and a bit citrusy, perfect for a (rare) warm sunny December day.
The bathroom is all the way in the back to the right. It is clean and as colorful as the rest of the space but a bit difficult to maneuver, especially if you go in with a wiggly toddler, like mine, who found pretty amusing that the hand drier would go off each time I got close to it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a changing table.
This restaurant is cash only and it has an ATM machine by the bathroom.
Coming from an extended Latin family, I feel there are more authentic Latin food establishments in New Jersey or Queens, but, then, you would probably have to pencil a whole day to explore their amazing food offerings. Overall, Cubana Cafe seems to be a fun enough place if you are in the neighborhood in the mood for brunch. They do have good drinks and we all know that a good drink and bright colors can make even the most gloomy day look better.
272 Smith Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Monday – Sunday: 9.00am – 12.00am