The Best Cuban Restaurants in Los Angeles


This morning President Obama announced plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than 50 years of isolation between the two countries. To mark this new era of openness, we've gathered a list of Cuban restaurants in L.A. that best reflects the cuisine.

La Caridad Restaurant
According to the 2010 Census, the L.A. area has more than 50,000 Cubans, making it the fourth largest Cuban community in the U.S. La Caridad's Echo Park location is a historic reminder of the first wave of Cuban immigrants to settle in in L.A. in the 1960s. Here, the national dish of ropa vieja is slow-cooked for hours, shredded, then served with beans, rice, and a side of garlicky yucca. 2619 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

This may not be the most beloved Cuban restaurant in Southern California, but it is perhaps the best known. With three locations, this is often most people's introduction to Cuban cuisine. Its glossy, comprehensive menu also makes it easy to explore Cuban cuisine and their specialty garlic chicken is a crowd pleaser. 1415 South La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA; (310) 289-0392; 10319 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA; (310) 558-3168; 17410 Ventura Boulevard, Encino, CA 91316; (818) 906-0756

El Colmao
There are usually two types of customers who come here: nostalgic Cuban-Americans who ate here as kids in the 1970s and '80s and Jonathan Gold disciples who are bent on trying every remaining restaurant in his 2000 food guide "Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles." Still, El Colmao is an L.A. institution, and their Pollo El Colmao chicken stewed with tomatoes, olives, peas, and chili powder is their signature dish. 2328 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006; (213) 386-6131

El Cochinito Restaurant
This tiny restaurant located in a Silver Lake strip mall on Sunset is a no-frills outfit. Folks rave about the Lechon asado dish: slow roasted pork served with a side of rice and beans or as a sandwich. 3508 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026; (323) 668-0737

Baracoa Cuban Cafe
Atwater Village is the entry point into a vast array of Cuban restaurants that starts from Glendale Boulevard and stretches through the city of Glendale all the way to North Hollywood. The arroz con pollo, or chicken and rice, is their most popular dish -- they're usually out of it by the end of the day. 3175 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039; (323) 665-9590

Mambo's Café
This Cuban diner was featured in "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," and host Guy Fieri gave his seal of approval after scarfing down the Tostones rellenos, a starter of fried plantains made into edible cups filled with shrimp ceviche. 1701 Victory Blvd, Glendale, CA 91201; (818) 545-8613

Porto's Bakery
This is a great place for a lunch or snack. It can get chaotic in here, but if you manage to navigate the line system, start by ordering the signature Cubano sandwich and guava cheese roll. Then get in the other line for a fantastic cup of coffee. 315 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203; (818) 956-5996; 3614 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505; (818) 846-9100; 8233 Firestone Boulevard, Downey, CA 90241; (562) 862-8888

Crispy Cuban Food Truck
The Cripsy Cuban Food Truck may not be "El Jefe" -- the fictional food truck from the film Chef that became a real food truck during the movie's promotion -- but it's a lot less meta and just serves lovingly-made meat sandwiches and other Cuban specialties.
Check @crispycuban on Twitter for locations

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