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90 Miles to Cuba (Cuban Cafe)

90 Miles to Cuba (Cuban Cafe)
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  • 90 Miles to Cuba (Cuban Cafe)

    Post #1 - September 20th, 2008, 4:23 pm
    Post #1 - September 20th, 2008, 4:23 pm Post #1 - September 20th, 2008, 4:23 pm
    Only mention of this new Cuban cafe is in the "Openings, closing..." section so im happy to spread the word. I had no idea of this places arrival or I would of been there the first day. I love Cuban food, I fiend for it so often after moving home from Tampa. Between my time in Tampa and plenty of WKDs in Miami, I developed a love for all of the amazing little Cuban joints from the classy to the coffeehouses where they didnt speak English. When I drove by this place last week I had to slam the brakes and check it out, it was late night however so they were closed.

    Image
    Nope were not in Key West...great Cuban in Chicago

    Finally got to try it today and was so damn impressed to the point where ill be back tomorrow. Luckily for me its a short drive down Clybourne where it sits at the old hot dog stand that was 3101 North.

    I wasnt going in and just getting a sandwich, I needed to try a few things so I got a Cuban, ropa viejo sandwich, papa rellenos, and a yucca frita. Cuban was awesome, the ropa was good and the rellanos, well when is ground beef stuffed in a ball of potato and fried not good?

    Image
    Cuban Sandwich

    Image
    Bottom to top: yucca frita (yucca fried with ground beef inside) Cuban sandwich, Ropa Vieja sandwich.

    The owners were a young Cuban couple (maybe) who seemed to have did there work and dedicated to doing it right. I talked of how I went to Tampa with them and the lady mention a Tampa Cuban- w/ salami, and the guy said were "going to put it on the menu". I like that. They had all the regional pop. Check out their menu, everything needs to be tried in my book. The Cuban omelette sounds really good.

    edited: to inform they are closed on Sundays

    Im going to try the frita Cubano before the bears game tomorrow. If its half as good as the one at its namesake, El Rey de las Fritas (in Miami), Ill be there weekly just for that.

    90 Miles (Cuban Cafe)
    3101 N. Clybourne
    Chicago, IL 60618
    773-248-CUBA
    http://90milescubancafe.com/

    El Rey de las Fritas
    1177 S.W. 8th St., Miami
    (one of several locations)
  • Post #2 - September 20th, 2008, 4:47 pm
    Post #2 - September 20th, 2008, 4:47 pm Post #2 - September 20th, 2008, 4:47 pm
    I've already been there twice, as it's not too far from my office. I went for the first time on the Wedneday after they opened, and went back this Thursday.

    On my first visit I had the traditional Cubano sandwich and maduros. The sandwich was pretty decent. Not the best Cuban I've ever had, but very good. I like mine a little more pressed. The maduros were excellent. As I was leaving, I chatted with the owner (Alberto?) for a few minutes. He apologized for the "long wait" for my food -- it was maybe 5 minutes... I told him that Panera always took longer and didn't have the excuse of being open only 3 days! He was eating his own lunch at the time, and he suggested that I try the Lechon-- his own creation of pork, plantains, onions and garlic sauce -- next time .

    So this week, I took his suggestion and ordered teh Lechon along with black beans. Another very enjoyable meal. The combination of tender pork, sweet plantains and tangy onions worked surprisingly well.

    Definitely a regular addition to my work lunch rotation!
  • Post #3 - September 20th, 2008, 5:16 pm
    Post #3 - September 20th, 2008, 5:16 pm Post #3 - September 20th, 2008, 5:16 pm
    DaBeef, that photo almost makes up for losing the pix of the poutine...
  • Post #4 - September 20th, 2008, 5:51 pm
    Post #4 - September 20th, 2008, 5:51 pm Post #4 - September 20th, 2008, 5:51 pm
    haha, thanks, ya its making me hungry again looking at it. I wouldnt say its the best Cuban sammy Ive had but it was really good and hit the spot. I look forward to trying that burger and everything else as well as the Italian-Tampa Cuban asap.
  • Post #5 - September 22nd, 2008, 1:37 pm
    Post #5 - September 22nd, 2008, 1:37 pm Post #5 - September 22nd, 2008, 1:37 pm
    Hmm. I'm no ReneG, but I have spent more time eating, thinking about and researching Cuban food, and Cuban sndwiches in particular that anyone should. Every time a new bodega opens up selling Cubans, there's a flurry of excited activity around here, and I get out to see if the new place stands up to Marianao or La Unica, let alone the cafeterias of Calle Ocho and Columbus Ave. Sometimes yes, often no.

    However, based on the photographic evidence alone, this new place makes a very nice looking Cuban. The shake selection seems exemplary, too, what with guanabana, trigo and mamey.

    I'm a little distressed that they (and Da Beef) insist on misspelling "yuca," but that's my quirk. And the pan con tortilla (omelet sandwich) is pretty commonplace in Cuban communities; Marianao here does a nice version. I will check it out. Thanks for the heads up.

    PS, fritas were not invented at the place in Miami, which seems to be suggested by the comment that the menu item here in Chicago was named after the Miami spot. Fritas were slung in Havana cafes before there were Cubans in Miami.
  • Post #6 - September 22nd, 2008, 1:52 pm
    Post #6 - September 22nd, 2008, 1:52 pm Post #6 - September 22nd, 2008, 1:52 pm
    My boyfriend and I ate here recently after having a three day cuban sandwich fest and decidely, this was the best. He noticed that the owner's meat slicer insinuates he gets higher quality meats. Their coffee is phenomenal. Damn, these photos are making me hungry!
  • Post #7 - September 22nd, 2008, 2:24 pm
    Post #7 - September 22nd, 2008, 2:24 pm Post #7 - September 22nd, 2008, 2:24 pm
    JeffB wrote:Hmm. I'm no ReneG, but I have spent more time eating, thinking about and researching Cuban food, and Cuban sandwiches in particular that anyone should.

    PS, fritas were not invented at the place in Miami, which seems to be suggested by the comment that the menu item here in Chicago was named after the Miami spot. Fritas were slung in Havana cafes before there were Cubans in Miami.


    I lived in Tampa and had a car, I like to think that my palates know good Cuban, when I get it. Hard to do here. The ropa was just OK but the Cuban I thought may have been better than the little hut on Pulaski who's name escapes me, the meats were all of high quality and they loaded it with pickles without me asking.

    I wsnt saying el rey de las fritas created what it is, but they sure spread the word, making them popular here. Still my favorite burger shack in the world.
  • Post #8 - September 22nd, 2008, 9:29 pm
    Post #8 - September 22nd, 2008, 9:29 pm Post #8 - September 22nd, 2008, 9:29 pm
    Stopped by 90 Miles for dinner tonight; a Cuban sandwich and a small order of sweet plantains. I also took a cup of the housemade chimmichuri sauce. The vinegary, garlicky, herby bite of the chimi was the perfect compliment to the sweetness of the plantains. I can't say this was the best meal I've ever had, but it was certainly one of the most satisfying. When I finished my sandwich, I had a delightful sense of well being and all things right with the world.

    Kudos to the owners for the wonderful remodeling of the place. The walls are papered with old pre-Castro newspapers and magazines. Trimmed in black and dark red, the whole thing is very warm and inviting; more the atmosphere of a nicer sit-down place than the step above fast food joint that this is.

    I thought it was just a little pricey for what it was, but I won't be eating here every night, so for those occasions when I want to do a minor splurge, 90 Miles will be the perfect choice.

    Buddy
  • Post #9 - September 22nd, 2008, 9:53 pm
    Post #9 - September 22nd, 2008, 9:53 pm Post #9 - September 22nd, 2008, 9:53 pm
    wow..that cuban sandwich looks really really good.

    going to try this place..
  • Post #10 - October 4th, 2008, 8:51 pm
    Post #10 - October 4th, 2008, 8:51 pm Post #10 - October 4th, 2008, 8:51 pm
    Had a tasty Media Noche sandwich there today.
    its was good- not great- and @ $8.00- not what I'd call a "Value Meal".
    OK bread- an appropriate shade of yellow-could of been a bit more Lechon in there for me....
    Had a very tasty liquado de Mamey- that wondeful Central American fruit available about this time of year (although most liquados use the frozen pulp).
    Oh- and the girlfriends Maduros (sweet Plantains) were not only sugary sweet - and perfectly fried, soft in the middle, with a bit of crispy edging- AND that carmelized gooey sweetness, that make these a "cross-over" dish/between a "Flambe"/Banannas ala Foster-like dessert and a Side Dish.

    What I did especially like, was the owner and his wifes, friendliness/enthusiasm, and general good vibe about the place-sitting in the "al fresca" dining area, was rather enjoyable on a sunny, Fall afternoon, as well.

    One important note-
    CASH ONLY!
    No Plastic- Nada......
    There could be some better signage to warn customers of that- we are so accustomed to use Debit Cards these days.....
  • Post #11 - October 4th, 2008, 9:34 pm
    Post #11 - October 4th, 2008, 9:34 pm Post #11 - October 4th, 2008, 9:34 pm
    They did have a sign that they were cash only for now -- and will take credit cards/debit cards soon.
  • Post #12 - October 11th, 2008, 11:01 am
    Post #12 - October 11th, 2008, 11:01 am Post #12 - October 11th, 2008, 11:01 am
    Went there today for the first time and will definitely return. As other posters have mentioned, the owners are very warm and nice people, and the food is very good. We had a media noche, a Cuban sandwich, an order of yuca frita, maduros, and a cafe con leche. Everything was excellent, and I could definitely see us returning for the cafe con leche alone. The owner also pointed out that she can use wheat bread, does egg-white omelettes and so on if people want healthy choices (I'm usually not one of those people, but the point is, they're trying to be very accommodating). Also, the interior is very cute and clean, and there's also a nice outdoor patio.
  • Post #13 - October 12th, 2008, 11:14 am
    Post #13 - October 12th, 2008, 11:14 am Post #13 - October 12th, 2008, 11:14 am
    Had a great meal last night! Got the Lechon dinner, a Ropa Vieja sandwich, a special cuban tamale, and some Croqueta's. Everything was great and traveled well. As stated above the couple were very friendly and proud of the good response they have had in the short 4 weeks they have been open. The sandwiches all were priced at $6.50, including the Media Noche. This is a great addition to the area.
    Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?...........Louis Armstrong
  • Post #14 - October 18th, 2008, 9:35 pm
    Post #14 - October 18th, 2008, 9:35 pm Post #14 - October 18th, 2008, 9:35 pm
    Dropped into this little lunch counter today, reasonably assured from the reports here that it would be a pleasant dining experience, and was not disappointed. Had a cubano, cafe con leche, and a mamey shake for ~$14 (the last item ought to be regarded as an article of faith as I have no conception as to what a mamey fruit even looks like. I was going by Hombre de Acero's reco. Like an ugly american, I even mispronounced it as "mamie" to the owner who smoothly corrected me without batting an eye). Since this was my second cubano ever, I can't comment intelligently on its authenticity, except to say that it was deeply satisfying and worth returning for if I was in the neighborhood. For my fellow disciples unschooled in all things mamey, I will report that the shake was pinkish brown, sligtly sweet, and tasted somewhat starchy (like bananas or plaintains) with a taste of vanilla. I would definitely try the papas rellenos and the maduros next time.

    One data point: I thought the bread particularly fine and on a complete whim, asked one of the owners if they had changed it recently. He answered that in fact, he had changed it from D'Amatos' three weeks prior. FWIW. He did not name the new supplier.

    REMINDER: They're closed on Sundays...already fell for that myself.
  • Post #15 - November 6th, 2008, 2:36 am
    Post #15 - November 6th, 2008, 2:36 am Post #15 - November 6th, 2008, 2:36 am
    This place might just have the best Cubano in the city right now. But at $6.50 a shot, I'll stick to some of the other well-known Cuban sammich joints in town.

    I wasn't nearly as impressed with the ropa. Way too clumpy/stringy, even for ropa. I kept biting into huge clumps that I simply could not chew into swallowable bits. Very difficult to eat.

    Still, I'd love to come back for the Cubano, but I can't justify spending that much on a Cubano when others are in the same league for a lot cheaper.
    Last edited by Drover on November 6th, 2008, 2:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #16 - November 6th, 2008, 2:38 am
    Post #16 - November 6th, 2008, 2:38 am Post #16 - November 6th, 2008, 2:38 am
    Hombre de Acero wrote:One important note-
    CASH ONLY!
    No Plastic- Nada......
    There could be some better signage to warn customers of that- we are so accustomed to use Debit Cards these days.....

    This has since been remedied.
  • Post #17 - November 7th, 2008, 12:56 am
    Post #17 - November 7th, 2008, 12:56 am Post #17 - November 7th, 2008, 12:56 am
    We stopped by a while back at 8 Pm on the nose...oops, already closing.

    Last night we ventured back, making sure we go there earlier. Alberto was at the counter, where I imagine he always is, day in and day out, and was very helpful. Since we have the gluten issue to deal with, our experience is predicated to a great extent by the owner or manager's willingness and ability to help.

    Alberto read labels, asked his cooks questions, and after several minutes we were sure what we could and couldn't have. Most of what we wanted, we could. The maduros were fried in the fryer, a no-no when glutenous things are also fried in it, but he offered to have them pan fry them for us. That's a great start.

    Ten minutes later we were back home and doling out portions. We tried the ropa and the bistec. Alberto says the bistec is his favorite and the ropa has been the customer's favorite since seeing it published in one of the local magazines.

    The portions were generous. Beans, maduros, rice and the entree item. We each ate dinner from it last night, and tonight we finished it off - I added some pulled pork I'd smoked, but I didn't need to add much. So, for $20, we had 4 meals.

    But, I probably wouldn't order either dish again. The ropa, as mentioned upthread, was just too stringy. It didn't have lumps in it, but it's just not for me. Now, I'm not one to eat tough meat, so for all I know all ropa vieja is this tough. It reminded me of the extremely tough pot roast I made last year only to find out that the cut of the roast is key to how tough it is.

    The bistec, smothered with fried onions, was also not for me. I am guessing it was a skirt/flank/flap or similar cut - something thin and tough (but tasty) that needs cutting across the grain and to be cooked no more than medium rare to ensure the best texture. But, it was well done. I did my best to slice it across the grain in thin strips, but it just didn't work. I imagine that because we took it home, it continued to cook and was much more done than if we'd eaten there. If I were to try it again, it would be with a request that it be cooked no more the medium rare and I'd be eating it there.

    The flavors were good. The service was excellent. And, I will go back. I'll by trying the lechon next time, however.
  • Post #18 - November 9th, 2008, 7:07 am
    Post #18 - November 9th, 2008, 7:07 am Post #18 - November 9th, 2008, 7:07 am
    I paid a visit to 90 Miles last week. It is a shoebox of a place that is run by some very nice, well meaning people.

    90 Miles
    Image

    The place was completely overrun with shrieking, misbehaving children who constantly ran amok with little to no intervention from their parents, who were content to ignore their behavior and drink endless cups of coffee in the window while the restaurant went completely up for grabs. When one family eventually left, another came to take their place.

    One of the prime offenders was this cute-as-a-button seed-of-Satan who had obviously just come from some event where he, no doubt, had to sit still and be good. Evidently, disrupting the restaurant was his reward for being good, and the rest of the patrons had to pay the price.

    Devil Child (one of several)
    Image

    But enough about the atmosphere. How was the food? Average at best, I would say. I started out with an order of croquettas, which turned out to actually be one single croquetta. It was nicely fried and completely in the ballpark of how a croquetta should taste. The accompanying red tinged mayo packed a slight bit of heat, but some El Yucateco was definitely in order to kick it up.

    90 Miles Croquettas
    Image

    I also ordered a Cubano. The meats were pretty good, but it was served on tasteless Turano bread. The sandwich was strangely cut on the bias, like a fancy grilled cheese cut corner to corner. This resulted in a somewhat difficult to eat sandwich where the ingredients constantly fell out.

    90 Miles Cubano
    Image

    Given the mediocrity of the sandwich and the annoying atmosphere (and despite the fact that the owners are extremely nice and very accommodating), I'll probably not return very soon. There are much better options in the city to get my Cubano fix.

    90 Miles
    3101 N. Clybourn
    Chicago, IL
    773-248-2822
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #19 - November 17th, 2008, 7:32 pm
    Post #19 - November 17th, 2008, 7:32 pm Post #19 - November 17th, 2008, 7:32 pm
    stevez wrote:I also ordered a Cubano. The meats were pretty good, but it was served on tasteless Turano bread. The sandwich was strangely cut on the bias, like a fancy grilled cheese cut corner to corner. This resulted in a somewhat difficult to eat sandwich where the ingredients constantly fell out.

    While I liked the bias cut on the Cubano, which I think if fairly standard, and 90-Miles was adults only Monday 2pm, I was not particularly motivated by the sandwich itself. Bread was nicely toasted and pressed, cheese melted, pickles in place, more than decent representation of the form, particularly so for the fact we are 1400-miles from Havana, not 90, but for just shy of $10 with a small cafe con leche I was left with a vaguely unsatisfied feeling.

    The counter people were very nice, and I will be back to try the weekend Grouper Head Soup, but I prefer my recent $5 Cubano at Cafecito, $1.50 less than 90-Miles $6.50, and the Chicago Cubano stalwarts of La Unica and Cafe Mariano, not to mention relative newcomer El Cubanito.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Cafecito
    28 E Congress Pkwy
    Chicago, IL
    312-922-2233

    La Unica Food Mart
    1515 W Devon Ave
    Chicago, IL 60660
    773-274-7788

    Cafe Marianao
    2246 N. Milwaukee Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60647
    773-278-4533

    El Cubanito
    2555 N Pulaski
    Chicago, IL 60639
    773-235-2555
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #20 - November 17th, 2008, 8:32 pm
    Post #20 - November 17th, 2008, 8:32 pm Post #20 - November 17th, 2008, 8:32 pm
    just a quick reply to titus wongs Shake comment....
    mamey shake for ~$14 (the last item ought to be regarded as an article of faith as I have no conception as to what a mamey fruit even looks like. I was going by Hombre de Acero's reco. Like an ugly american,


    Mamey (aka Sapote) ((pronounced- Mahm -ey)) is an amazing fruit. A little bit sweet- a little bit starchy- a little (lotta) hard to describe.
    Frozen Mamey is sold at La Unica, as well as most Supermercados in the frozen aisle. Fresh Mameys are tough to find here in Chicago- lots of em in Miami are grocery stores.In Chicago- I've purchased them at Jimenez on Fullerton- and seen them at Patel Grocery on Devon as well.

    here's some references for you to "visualize"...
    http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&c ... a=N&tab=wi
    http://www.essortment.com/all/sapotemamey_rhcj.htm

    FFIW
    on my most recent visit to 90 miles- mi Tio (my Uncle) had a Vegetarian Cubano- which I wasn't able to sample- but was assured was "Very Good!"...my Media Noche was good- just to my wallet- a little "high" for a sandwich (but- for that matter - so is 11 City Diner- but that's a whole 'nother story....!!!!!)
  • Post #21 - November 17th, 2008, 10:44 pm
    Post #21 - November 17th, 2008, 10:44 pm Post #21 - November 17th, 2008, 10:44 pm
    I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure there were Mameys at Maxwell Street Market...whether they were previously frozen, I couldn't say.
  • Post #22 - November 17th, 2008, 10:58 pm
    Post #22 - November 17th, 2008, 10:58 pm Post #22 - November 17th, 2008, 10:58 pm
    Hombre de Acero wrote:- just to my wallet- a little "high" for a sandwich

    HdA,

    My 90-Mile Cubano was not "high (pricey) for a sandwich" I have no set sandwich price, though it did skew a little low on the G Wiv Value to Deliciousness scale.

    For example, a McFib for .99c is a cold stone rip off and a Cemita de Milanesa from Cemitas Puebla for $6 is a steal.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #23 - November 17th, 2008, 11:14 pm
    Post #23 - November 17th, 2008, 11:14 pm Post #23 - November 17th, 2008, 11:14 pm
    Yo Gary-
    just to my wallet- a little "high" for a sandwich


    The reference/Value to Yummiousness ratio- was "mine"- and in no way commenting on your comment.
    As to McFib- I wouldnt know- I never go that way.
    As far as La Cemitas....Yo no se
    Un otra Tiempo.......
    :lol:
  • Post #24 - November 18th, 2008, 12:25 am
    Post #24 - November 18th, 2008, 12:25 am Post #24 - November 18th, 2008, 12:25 am
    Yo Superman, thanks for the visual aids. Wonder where I got bananas from?... A return trip is in order, but since I just had Cuban last night at Habana Libre (and have been on a mini-Tacothon as of late), it may take a while. Those papas rellenos are calling my name though...
  • Post #25 - November 18th, 2008, 6:35 am
    Post #25 - November 18th, 2008, 6:35 am Post #25 - November 18th, 2008, 6:35 am
    Hombre de Acero wrote:The reference/Value to Yummiousness ratio- was "mine"- and in no way commenting on your comment.

    HdA,

    I was commenting on your comment, though it may have seemed I was commenting on you commenting on my comment. (Humm, not as confusing as I thought)

    Either way, we seem to agree the value for deliciousness ratio for 90-Miles Cubano is slightly off.

    I do, however, reserve the right to laud other aspects of 90-Miles as the weekend special of Grouper Head soup sounds terrific.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #26 - December 7th, 2008, 12:41 am
    Post #26 - December 7th, 2008, 12:41 am Post #26 - December 7th, 2008, 12:41 am
    Mhays wrote:I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure there were Mameys at Maxwell Street Market...whether they were previously frozen, I couldn't say.


    Sorry I missed this reference earlier. You're right, MHays, there were mameys at the market during one of our recent excursions. I bought one; it had pretty good flavor, though it was a little too mushy.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #27 - January 19th, 2009, 4:15 pm
    Post #27 - January 19th, 2009, 4:15 pm Post #27 - January 19th, 2009, 4:15 pm
    Just an FYI...stopped by there today and Alberto told me that they just signed the lease on the Calvin's BBQ space on Armitage, and are planning to open their 2nd location by the end of March....
    CONNOISSEUR, n. A specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else.
    -Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

    www.cakeandcommerce.com
  • Post #28 - January 19th, 2009, 5:21 pm
    Post #28 - January 19th, 2009, 5:21 pm Post #28 - January 19th, 2009, 5:21 pm
    That is great news, as I am only a few blocks from the old Calvin's. We were there as well today and really enjoyed the ropa vieja, guava/cream cheese empanada, and cafe cubano.
  • Post #29 - March 20th, 2009, 11:58 am
    Post #29 - March 20th, 2009, 11:58 am Post #29 - March 20th, 2009, 11:58 am
    I still have to get there!!!! Saw this on CNN just now:

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/03/19/cuban.restaurant/index.html
  • Post #30 - March 20th, 2009, 7:49 pm
    Post #30 - March 20th, 2009, 7:49 pm Post #30 - March 20th, 2009, 7:49 pm
    Nice feature on CNN! I was just in there for lunch yesterday for lunch...

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