15 January 2011

Lunch at Cuba Libre, Washington, DC

For my first trip to Washington, DC, in 2011, I offered to take the head of Land O’Lakes DC office (and the only person in that office) out for a New Year’s lunch. She picked Cuba Libre.

She had mentioned it to me once before, and I when I looked it up online, I learned that there are three other restaurants in the group – one in Philadelphia, one in Atlantic City, and one in Orlando. The restaurant is decorated to resemble a Havana street scene. It borders on corny, but I actually thought it was fun.

The menu is very interesting. They list a bunch of ‘piqueo’ – Cuban small plates. They also have an intriguing selection of ceviches. The rest of the lunch menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches, and a handful of entrées, all of which sound very tasty and authentic. (Of course, since I’ve never been to Cuba, I wouldn’t really know if they are authentic.)

Besides the lunch menu, they also have a daily special – Cuban bento box. On our January visit, we both decided to go with the bento, which included a ceviche, a salad, and a small main course. The ceviche was called ‘atun fire and ice’ – citrus-cured tuna served with red onions and jalapeno-ginger-coconut sauce. It was delicious. The salad was called ‘ensalada de pollo rancho luna.’ It consisted of citrus marinated chicken with cabbage, romaine, tomatoes, red onions, and cucumbers topped with crispy wontons. I liked it, but it was my least favorite item in the bento.

The main course was a small serving of ‘vaca frita’ - braised short ribs with grilled red onions and peppers served on a bed of black beans and rice. Both the ceviche and the salad were available on the lunch menu. The short ribs are available as an entrée on the dinner menu.

The bento also came with a small dessert. (Sorry, but I don’t remember what it was. I know it wasn’t apple pie or carrot cake.)

We didn’t have anything to drink at lunch. But the restaurant has a quite an impressive drink menu. They offer several different mojitos, tropical cocktails, cachaça, and pisco as well as sangria and a great selection of bottled beer. In addition, they have a list of 70 different kinds of rum.

I think it would be fun to come here sometime with a group, order a bunch of small plates and ceviches and have drinks.

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