Savor the Taste of Cuba at El Siboney
Key West’s El Siboney serves up Cuba on a plate of deliciousness
It was warm when we walked through the door of El Siboney Restaurant (900 Catherine Street; 305-296-4184; ElSiboneyRestaurant.com) in Key West, Florida and it wasn’t from the tropical heat warming the night air outside.
It was warm with people, the smell of spices simmering in the kitchen and the family welcoming at the front desk.
The restaurant located in the building reminded me of a version of the adobe buildings in New Mexico. Each room seemed to organically have been added on with each generation of this family-owned restaurant. Inside, it felt like it was one big Latin family dining experience where everyone was happily crammed in every possible space eagerly eating and drinking the flavors of Cuba and the sounds of English and Spanish mingle together.
A favorite among locals and visitors who find the El Siboney in the heart of old town Key West you can’t go wrong. It’s has been the closest thing that Americans could get to Cuba (which is 90 miles from Key West) with its authentic Cuban dishes … until recently.
Oh … did we mention the price? El Siboney serves up great food at a price that won’t break the bank.
El Siboney, which comes from the name of one of the original indigenous people of Cuba before colonization, has been serving up its famous Roast Pork and Siboney Steak, numbers 1 and 7 on the menu, respectively, for more than 30 years. Other hits on the menu are the Paella Valenciana, which needs to be ordered an hour ahead via phone and the Cuban Mix Sandwich is a lunchtime favorite, according to our host and the El Siboney’s website.
It should also be noted that El Siboney has been awarded with the Key West’s Best Cuban Restaurant since 1993. That’s more than 20 years consecutively, so you know it has to be good.
The same family owned it up until the de la Cruz family took it over in 2004, but nothing was changed, simply because it’s that good.
In spite of being extremely crowded, we didn’t have to wait long for our group to be seated.
We weaved our way through the restaurant to the back and quickly began devouring the menu and discussing the dishes and the cocktails among our group. Who was going to try what? Was everyone up for sharing their dish? We couldn’t resist. Everything looked appetizing.
The Taste of Cuba
There is plenty to choose from the extensive menu offering up a plethora of dishes focused on traditional Cuban food, Paella (a succulent Spanish rice dish filled with saffron chicken and seafood) and of course local seafood.
Dinner wouldn’t be complete without drinks and there is also a wide selection to enjoy with friends, family and your meal.
I chose the famous Palomilla Steak, while Babes (Heather) enjoyed the Grilled Chicken Breast (Pechuga de Pollo a la Plancha), but the big winner was another member of our group’s dish, the Picadillo. You can’t go wrong with this Cuban comfort food made with ground beef, olives, spices … it’s all so yummy that it’s one of our endearing memories and souvenirs that we brought home from Key West. I made it as soon as we returned and have since made it several times for Babes and our friends and family. The real test will be when I have a cook-off with our Cuban boyfriend, Dunie.
Everything was served with rice and fried plantains.
This was our best dinner in Key West simply because the food was amazing and we were in good company. So much so that we barely noticed that the service was somewhat slow due to the crowd, but it wasn’t so bad that we felt annoyed by it. Our server was very friendly and handled our large table very well.
We left El Siboney’s full and warm from the spices and good feelings all around. El Siboney is well worth the wait, if you have to wait, but definitely don’t miss it when you visit Key West.
THE DIRTY DISH
El Siboney Restaurant, 900 Catherine Street, Key West, Florida. 305-296-4184. ElSiboneyRestaurant.com.
TYPE OF RESTAURANT: Family-owned, Cuban
RATING: 4 = black
(5 best – 0 worst: color code: 5 = midnight blue; 4 = black; 3 = Aqua; 2 = orange; 1 = gold; and 0 = green)
AMBIANCE: Think Latin family during the holidays: full house but cheerful and friendly.
SCENE: Island casual all the way.
SERVICE: Ebbed and flowed from quick seating to slow service at times, but we barely noticed.
NOISE LEVEL: The restaurant gets busy so the noise level does get elevated, but we were seated in a corner where the other conversations around us didn’t disrupt our table’s conversation.
RECOMMENDED DISHES: Hands down the Picadillo. Ground beef with olives and spices over rice it’s the bomb in a very simple form. We know, it’s not the most popular dish that gets mentioned, but it is oh so tasty.
SIP: The Chablis and Sangria is house made, but they also offer a large variety of beer and wine.
CHECK, PLEASE: $ = $$ = $10 – $20
(price of average dinner/lunch/breakfast/brunch bill for an individual dinner)
THE EAT: A cozy Latin family atmosphere that is busy but warm and friendly serving up delicious authentic Cuban dishes.
WORTH THE NIGHT OUT?: This was delicious!
To book your Key West getaway, contact Heather Cassell at Girls That Roam Travel at Travel Advisors of Los Gatos at 408-354-6531at or .
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