So my first week in Tampa (I use that term “first week loosely because I feel like I am in somewhere in middle of the Hoth system) was uneventful. Uneventful, in my mind, is torturous. I am so used to doing something, anything, with anybody. That’s when I am at my best. So move me to a new town, without a car during the day (my car is in transit), and stick me in my townhome for a week and I might as well be frozen in carbonite (Can you guess the theme for this post?).
Okay it wasn’t so bad, we did have the 4th of July. That was so exciting because we were able to…. Wait…. Wait… UNPACK BOXES. Woo Hoo! Well, I did basically DEMAND that we at least go somewhere to watch the fireworks. While the St. Pete Beach extravaganza didn’t exactly equate to the Celebration on Endor, it was pretty amazing to be sitting on the beach with my wife and youngest son (The Carbonara), watching the sunset, enjoying the atmosphere, panicking to find diapers after he somehow went through 3 of them within 45 minutes (it must have been something that Aunt Beru cooked up), and celebrating our nations birthday.
So a week the finally wrapped up, I was on the verge of throwing myself into the Sarlaac Pit. I needed to not cook on Friday. I needed to get out; so it was off the Cuban Breezes. All I knew about Cuban Breezes was that it was close (within 10 minutes) and that it had a 4 star rating on Yelp.
SIDEBAR- For all of you Yelp detractors out there, I know Yelp isn’t the end all, be all in Restaurant guides. Matter of fact, it can often be problematic anywhere other than large cities. Still, Yelp is helpful. It can me get a quick survey on my immediate surroundings. It can give me a quick gauge on whether or not I’m going to hate a place or not. It’s just one of many blasters in the arsenal.
So we walk into this strip mall restaurant and notice that the entire staff and clientele is made up of gringos; therefor, it was not the Mos Eisley atmosphere that I love in some ethnic ristorantes. We sat down, ordered our pitcher of sangria ($8- that’s not a joke) and an appetizer platter of ham croquettes, yucca fritters, and pan y queso.
The sangria was cheap, but I didn’t care. It was perfect and I was perfectly happy by the time the food had arrived. The appetizer platter was meh. I liked the pan con queso in the way that we all pretended to like the Ewoks. We had to like them because they were Star Wars, but we really hated the storyline. The yucca fritters were good because they were fried, and they were even better after drenching them with the nebulous white dipping sauce. The ham croquettes did nothing for us.
For entrees, I had the Lechon Asado ( marinated, slow roasted pork) and Mrs. Marinara had her staple Cuban Sandwich (which shouldn’t a Cuban Sandwich just be called a Sandwich at a Cuban joint?). Like most slow cooked pork shoulders, there are some really good fatty parts and some dry stringy areas. The marinade could not compensate for the dry stringiness the way some barbeque sauces can, and I ended leaving a few pieces for the banthas. The accompanying black beans were a bit citrusy and were positively delightful. Mrs. Marinara’s sandwich was a bit dry and ordinary.
I’m not going to bash Cuban Breezes because it didn’t live up to my high standards, mostly because they stayed true to themselves and never advertised themselves more than what they are. They are a simple utilitarian Cuban restaurant. Our meal with alcohol came out a little over $30. Service was fast and pleasant. The food was enjoyable, but not so enjoyable that I would have to get back there, but enjoyable enough to visit again if we were looking for a cheap and fast bite to eat.