Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tropical Restaurant

I've always thought that I had a pretty good handle on all the good Cuban restaurants around Miami (well at least as good as someone who goes there a lot), but on this visit my mother took us all out to lunch at this place in the middle of Hialeah, just a couple of quick miles from the airport and almost right off LeJeune Road, which is the main road right off the airport.

The place is called Tropical Restaurant and it is located at 652 E 9th St
Hialeah, FL 33010 - (305) 887-5556.

Let me tell you, this place is worth driving to it if you are in Miami and want to experience a really good restaurant with really cheap prices and excellent Cuban food.

It has a huge sign on 9th Street, and then once you drive into the strip mall where it is located, it is a little hard to locate at first - all you really see is an outside kiosk-like entrance common to Cuban restaurants -- where people can walk up and have a Cuban coffee or a sandwich. To the right of that is a door, and that is the actual entrance to a very large restaurant.

When we entered, it was very cool and very dark, and there's a stage to the left where a really good singer was entertaining the eating customers singing smooth, Spanish love songs in a Julio Iglesias-type crooning voice.

There's a small army of waiters in uniform and as soon as we were seated, and one brought us some toasted Cuban bread with butter. I'd say the average age of the waiters was around 60 and they all looked like they've been doing the job for decades.

My wife ordered some "mariquitas" (waver thin fried plantain chips) to start and we got a huge hot plate of them for $2.50 - they were right off the pan!

The food was excellent - since it was lunch I had a large "Caldo Gallego" (Galician Stew) and it was very tasty and another amazing deal for $3.50. Anderson had Cuban Chicken Soup and scarfed up an adult-size plate as well as a full avocado salad on a bed of lettuce and tomatoes. He then finished off a mamey "batido" (A Cuban milkshake amde with mamey fruit).

The menu was quite extensive and they have daily specials (I noted they serve goat once a week) and the prices are all excellent and quite a mind check to other (higher) prices in Miami's more chic Cuban restaurants.

Generous portions, perfect service and a very friendly atmosphere - This is as local and as Cuban as it gets.