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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “El Cubanito disappoints, despite savory menu”

    I really wanted to like it.

    From the unassuming architecture of the free-standing building to the quirky assembly of the decor, I was ready for my culinary rags-to-riches adventure. Unfortunately, El Cubanito did not deliver.

    True, the building’s exterior could be described as a relic from Cuba’s concrete bunker-style architecture of the 1960s, but I was still fully prepared to accept the restaurant’s interior — numerous pictures and signed bats of Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks players — as a sports bar-ish atmosphere. Maybe that’s how they do it in Havana?

    With the “”rags”” atmosphere built up unequivocally around me, things could only get better, I thought to myself as I ordered Jupina, a pineapple soda they say is Cuba’s favorite. My friend ordered Materva, a Yerba Mate soda, which we both agreed tasted like what we imagine a Colt 45 would taste like, or like that one time my friends dragged me to an Edward 40 Hands theme party.

    We also ordered two chicken croquetas, 75 cents each. They came out speedily, and looked like mozzarella sticks, but smelled, despite the flecks of at least 5 different spices and seasonings in the crust, like corn dogs. As I bit into the snack food, something went amok. The chicken had been ground to a pureed consistency. Not entirely pleased with my pink-in-color baby food corn dog, I ate half and left the rest to my friend who chanced the salmonella the way John F. Kennedy chanced the Bay of Pigs.

    But I trekked onwards. I ordered the chicken stew — cooked in beer, wine and tomato sauce, which sounded like the perfect antidote to the croqueta. Also, I’ve found that in college, I rarely need an excuse to consume alcohol before 8 p.m.

    The plate arrived with a flat Cuban roll, rice and beans. This course was actually pretty delicious. I was given three hefty pieces of brown meat, still on the bone, drenched, but not drowning in a deliciously flavorful sauce with hints of an extensive array of spices and herbs. The rice and beans were seasoned just perfectly, and made a fine addition to my mini-sandwich concoction of everything on my plate.

    Redemption.

    I was so proud of El Cubanito that I thought I would give it another chance to impress me at a reasonable price. I was thinking dessert.

    Unfortunately, our server had no idea what this crazy concept called after-meal deliciousness was. I asked to see the menu again so I could look at the desserts. No response. My friend offered a feeble “”dulces?””

    Still nothing. I asked again for a menu, and pointed to the menu stack just three feet away.

    Nada. 

    Up until then, I had excused the fact that our waitress hadn’t brought us water, had spent about 10 seconds less than she needed to take our two previous orders, and didn’t seem to be doing anything in the otherwise empty restaurant save for helping one other couple and a group of about seven or eight regulars. But this was too much — I wanted dessert.

    Unwilling to put up a fight, and full from our meal, we paid and walked out sheepishly. We felt like bad people for not being able to speak Spanish well enough to enjoy a sweet treat, and as we passed the skeleton dressed up Fidel Castro, I too felt the urge to divvy up blame — equally, of course. 

    Maybe I really should have paid more attention to Ms. Tache in Spanish 1 and 2. Or maybe I’m being hyper-critical and expecting too much out of a restaurant that’s only open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Doors close at 6:30 p.m.)

    El Cubanito

    1150 E. 6th St.

    520-623-8020

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