Looking for authentic Cuban food? Try Cuba de Ayer Restaurant in Burtonsville.
Both my grandfather and my Godfather have eaten here and thought it was worth a return trip. The latter is of Cuban descent and grew up in Miami. So, he knows good Cuban food.
Cuba de Ayer is located in a busy strip shopping center that can be a little tricky to find on a street crowded with business and signs. Here's a google map to help you find it.
The restaurant's decor made me feel like I was dining in Cuba. As soon as I opened the door, I was met by fast beat Cuban music. It was nice background music but not too loud to interfere with our conversation. In addition, Cuban pictures and art decorated the walls.
For appetizers, my grandfather ordered two dishes for us to share. The Sandwich Cubano and the Croquetas de Jamon
(left). The croquetas were crispy on the outside and field with a tasty ham and mashed potato mixture. Melt in your mouth delicious. I knew I would love the Sandwich Cubano because it has some of my favorite foods combined- roast pork, baked ham, swiss cheese, mustard and thin sliced pickle all on a hot pressed baguette. I was not disappointed. Yum!
Many of the entrees come with plantains (banana like fruit) and black beans. We had the choice of either sweet plananos maduros (sweet plantains) or tostones (fried green plantains) and black beans on the side in a separate bowl or mixed in with the rice. We choose sweet plantains and a bowl of black beans on the side.
My mom's entree was masitas de puerco fritas (fried morsels of pork). This is one of her favorite dishes to order at Cuban restaurants, so she's had it many times. She thought the seasoned pork was moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. I tasted it too and agree.
I ordered the arroz con pollo (yellow rice, sweet plantains, dark meat chicken served on the bone). This dish also comes in a white meat version. The chicken was crazy moist, fall off the bone tender - just how I like it. The seasoned yellow rice was also tender with a mild spicy taste to complement the chicken. The sweet plantains were soft and a bit sweet. I would have liked the plantains a little sweeter.
My grandfather selected the Picadillo (Cuban style seasoned ground beef cooked with green olives, raisins, potatoes, and non-spicy spices).
This is one of my Grandfather's favorite Cuban dishes. His best friend growing up in New York was a Cuban boy who's mom was a fantastic cook. So, he's been eating variations of this dish for about 40 years. He thought this Picadillo was very tasty but needed a touch more seasoning. He agreed with me that the plantains could have been a bit sweeter.
We were so full we didn't order dessert, but the menus had some items I'd like to try the next time we return including flan and tres leches.
Note - We ate here for lunch on a Saturday. The menu gives both lunch and dinner prices. Our waiter didn't tell us that the lunch prices are only for the weekday. So, it was a big surprise to find out when we got our bill. Ask your waiter before you order which prices apply.
Cuba de Ayer is located at 15446 Old Columbia Pike in Burtonsville, Maryland 20866, (301) 476-9622.