Monday, June 14, 2010
1484 Roswell Rd., Marietta, GA http://mariettacubandiner.com
On Thursday night Kyle and I had dinner at the Cuban Diner. I need to begin this review with a few words on the location.
Cuban Diner is located in a run-down, old shopping center on Roswell Rd near the intersection of Lower Roswell Rd. The flagship store in the center is an old family-owned drugstore. The exterior is shady - but as all of my fellow Buford Hwy devotees know - you can't judge a book by its cover. You'll be very happy if you just cross your fingers and give the restaurant a try.
Kyle ordered media noche, a sandwich of ham, Swiss, pork, mustard mayo and a pickle on a sweet pressed roll ($7.50). The difference between this and their El Cubano is the bread - the other is, of course, Cuban bread. The portion size is smaller than you would have received at the former tried-and-true Havana Sandwich Shop on Buford Hwy, but it's very good and comes with a choice of sides. Kyle selected the maduros, sweet fried plantains. They were great. Cooked to perfection.
I ordered the pescado a la plancha, which is grilled fish fillet in Cuban lime marinade ($7.99). I received chicken instead of fish. As soon as I pointed this out, the horrified owner (Jose') had my fish ready in less than 5 minutes, and allowed me to box up the chicken to take home. Which I did, and it was awesome, covered with sauteed onions. The fish, though, is a real treat. It's golden and crisp on the edges, with a super marinade. All the entrees come with 3 sides, and I chose the tostones (fried green plantains), moros (black beans and rice) and yuca con mojo, which was my favorite. Yuca con mojo is cassava with raw onion rings, lime juice and oil. It is incredible - tender, with a flavor that pops. The tostones were very good and salty. The maduros was OK but lacked sufficient flavor, although I may just be spoiled after the yuca con mojo and incredible fish. Jose' says they cook the black beans and rice together all day long, every day. The entree with 3 sides is the best deal I've seen in a long time.
This place is far, far superior to the better known Coco-Loco.
The sangria is also great. Juicy and sweet, but not overly sweet.
Jose', is pleasantly gregarious. He is the kind of jolly person you'd associate with a family-owned pizza place. He apologized at least 4 times with the fish-chicken mix-up. He was hard at work the entire time we dined there - waiting tables, directing the cook, cleaning up, answering the phones. He mentioned that business is great during lunch, on Friday nights and the weekends, but often dead on weeknights. This is a man who obviously takes his business seriously. Let's help him make it a bigger success.
I have Kyle to thank for this excellent experience. He has some kind of restaurant app on his iPhone that allows the user to type in a location and type of cuisine and then lists the nearest restaurants meeting that description. We only live about 15 minutes away from Cuban Diner but never would have found it otherwise. I can't wait to return for more. Just thinking about the yuca con mojo makes me hungry.
Verdict: Better than Havana Sandwich Shop. (Yes, I mean the old location.)