Continuing our survey of Cuban restaurants in South Florida, we come to Broward County, which is often in the news when things go wrong. You may recall the creative incompetence of their elections office, although it recently has been totally eclipsed by their sheriff’s department. More happily, Broward County is home to Fort Lauderdale. Remember Spring Break, Where the Boys Are and the Elbow Room Bar? You don’t? I went on an impromptu trip to Fort Lauderdale with some fraternity brothers while I was in college … but enough about that. I’ve been back to Fort Lauderdale a number of times since, usually to straighten up their elections office, and it’s a very nice place, now that they’ve chased off the college students visiting on impromptu trips.
This last trip, we stayed north of Fort Lauderdale in Pompano Beach, which put us within range of Little Havana up in Deerfield Beach, near the Palm Beach County line. Little Havana is a nice space in a new building, roomy with enough space between the tables and an 18 or 20 foot ceiling. The staff, all of whom seem to be Cubans, is very nice and the service is well-timed. In all, the atmosphere is very low-key Cuban, very relaxing.
The food has a pronounced garlic theme. As you sit down, you are greeted by warm, fresh Cuban bread and mojo for dipping. What could be more welcoming?
I, of course, got the lechon asado.
The pork itself was moist, tender, and full of flavor from the marinade. As you can see, it comes topped with thinly sliced raw onion, which offered a nice counterpoint to the richness of the pork, and chicharrones (Spanish for hunk of pork skin), always a nice touch and very good here. Excellent. And the black beans are first rate.
Nancy, ever the health conscious one, ordered gambas al ajillo, or shrimp with garlic, which came with a salad and plantains.
Let’s take a closer look at the shrimp.
Those are some nice, fresh shrimp. And the more discerning readers may be able to detect a generous amount of garlic. Nancy really liked the shrimp. And she liked the salad, fresh with lots of roasted red peppers, and the plantains.
The untutored among my readers may notice that the shrimp come with a lot of butter, and may question Nancy’s choice as not really health conscious. Regular readers know not to question Nancy. Nancy didn’t sop up all of that garlicky butter with more fresh Cuban bread. Someone else did. (Nancy usually travels with a special assistant who protects here from both the Scylla of overeating and the Charybdis of wasting food.)
I recommend Little Havana for anyone in that neck of the woods … or beach. It is very pleasant, not too crowded or too loud, a fine place to have a good meal in a comfortable setting.