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Cubanitas: A Unique Experience to Be Savored

Milwaukee Street restaurant offers authentic Cuban fare

Aug. 24, 2011
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Cuban restaurants are not new to Milwaukee—past examples include Lazara's and Hemingway's Old Havana—but currently only one remains. Cubanitas, which opened eight years ago, is still going strong. Part of the Bianchini restaurant group that includes the Mexican restaurant Coa and the wine and charcuterie bar Indulge, Cubanitas is located on the hottest restaurant and lounge block in the city: the golden stretch of Milwaukee Street between Wisconsin Avenue and Mason Street.

Cubanitas is not large, but it boasts plenty of Latin style. There is a bar at which to get a mojito, granite-topped tables and large chandeliers that provide pre-Castro Cuban elegance. On warm days the restaurant is open to the street.

Cubanitas also is very affordable. The place is nearly always full at lunchtime, when you place your order at the bar. There is table service for dinner.

The Cuban guacamole ($6.95) is an eye-catching starter. It is served in a giant martini glass and comes with three long fried plantain chips that reach toward the stars. The same glass is used for the ceviche del dia ($9.25), which, as the name implies, changes daily. At one visit it was a meaty serving with shrimp and scallops studded with bits of sweet fresh mango, red onion, bell pepper and cilantro. The citrus marinade proved to be just right for the mango. There are three choices for empanadas ($2.25), the turnovers that are popular throughout much of Latin America. The espinaca con queso has Mediterranean flavors, with a filling of spinach and Manchego cheese. In salad options, the ensalada de la tia ($4.25) offers roasted red pepper, tomato and onion with balsamic vinaigrette.

The menu also features entrees and some very good sandwiches. Most entrees include rice and beans.

Naturally there is a sandwich Cubano ($7.95), which is made with ham, Swiss cheese, slices of pickle, mustard aioli and lovingly cooked roast pork. Cuban sandwiches appear on many local menus, but here they get it right. Pan con bistec ($9.25) is a thin slice of sirloin served on Cuban bread and topped with grilled onions and french fries. Lechon asado ($11.25) offers fine roast pork, carefully slow-cooked so it is still juicy—this is how pork should be prepared. Ropa vieja ($13.25) is a Cuban classic, shredded flank steak with sliced onions and bell peppers in a vibrant tomato Creole sauce. It's always a favorite.

Weekdays offer a daily special entrée; Saturdays bring a few brunch items. On Wednesday it is boliche ($12), slices of pot roast stuffed with chorizo. This chorizo is a spicy link sausage (different from Mexican chorizo). The tomato sauce is similar to the ropa vieja—in other words: really good.

Desserts are a nice match for the entrees. Among the choices are flan, key lime pie and a brownie topped with coconut ice cream.

Cubanitas may be Milwaukee's only Cuban restaurant, but it fills the role very well. This is a unique experience to be savored.


728 N. Milwaukee St.

(414) 225-1760


Credit Cards: All Major



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