29 Sep 2008 @ 3:20 PM 

Ok, since I finally remembered how to log into this thing, I’m going to write the first official Omaha Critic post written by The Critical Wife!  (Yes, you may applaud now.  ;-)  )

Early last week, I was driving in the area of 108th and Q, and noticed a sign for a restaurant I had not seen before.  The sign advertised “Cuba Linda”, a Cuban restaurant.  Fantastic!  My husband LOVES trying new restaurants and also loves Cuban food, so this would be a great choice.  Well – Sunday afternoon rolled around and we needed to find a place for a late lunch/early dinner.  We had a kiddo attending a birthday party at Zzzap! Laser Adventures, which is almost right across the street from the Cuba Linda restaurant, so it all seemed fortuitous that we give the restaurant a try.

When we entered the restaurant, I was impressed by the amount of time and attention that has gone into decorating the place.  Now, don’t get me wrong – it’s a very homey type of decoration.  The walls are painted the colors of the Cuban flag, the seats are draped with seat covers and tied with bows.  It’s just all very pretty and homey.  The bar in the corner is even more festive, and I’m sure, were I not pregnant, that a lovely Cuban cocktail would have really hit the spot!

From reading the menu, it seems that Cuba Linda has been in business since 1997, but it must have been at a different location.  In searching online, it appears that the current incarnation opened in March of 2007, so the restaurant does have some history behind it.  It was, however, new to us!

For our meal, we ordered a starter of chicken empanadas, which came out quickly.  I giggled a little bit at the use of ketchup lightning bolts to decorate the plate – but my giggles were soon replaced by groans of ecstasy.  Yes, my friends, they were THAT good.  The dough of the empanadas was fried crispy, and dusted with sugar.  Inside, the shredded chicken mixture blended with potatoes, green olives, corn, and some kind of seasoning, and it was all just truly lovely together.  I also have to admit, just a bit of ketchup with the empanada was exactly the right flavor!  It was fantastic. 

For the main course, we ordered arroz con pollo, seafood paella, green plantains with shrimp, and a Cuban pork sandwich.  My only complaint with any of the main dishes is that the rice in the arroz con pollo and paella was dry, but the flavor of everything was really good.  The arroz con pollo is served as yellow rice with spanish olives and onions, with a stewed chicken leg.  It is served in a combination platter with sweet plantains and a fried egg omelette.  The seafood paella, similarly, came stuffed with seafood – mussles and shrimp and all sorts of yumminess, along with the sweet plantains, refried smashed plantains (not sure what these were called) and the omelette. The green plantains are the fried sweet plantains, mashed, and then refried, with a red sauce and shrimp on the top.  Omaha Critic liked the green plantains, but the kids ended up just picking off the shrimp. The Cuban sandwich was stuffed with pork and cheese, and also was very fresh, hot, and tasty.  Of all of the dishes, the Cuban sandwhich was probably the easist for the kids to enjoy, as the flavors weren’t off their radar at all.  The plantains threw them a little!

The one thing we noticed about the restaurant as we sat enjoying our food was that literally EVERYONE around us was speaking Spanish.  At the time we were there, which was about 4 pm on a Sunday afternoon, there were two other tables with patrons, and another table at which either the owners or their friends were sitting.  There was conversation around the restaurant between the different tables, which gave the place a very friendly feeling, as if a bunch of good friends were just sitting around enjoying a meal. 

As far as prices go, Cuba Linda seemed fairly reasonable.  The appetizers ranged from about $3 to $7, and the main courses ranged from about $8 to $15.  Our total before tip for four entrees, one starter, and five drinks (non-alcoholic) was around $47, which we don’t consider to be too bad.  We all left quite full, and everyone, even our children, enjoyed their meal. 

I will complain slightly that we didn’t try the desserts, a grave error which WILL be rectified the next time we go!

Our server was very efficient and friendly, and although Spanish is obviously his primary language, he made every effort to make sure he understood our English.  We felt a little disappointed we couldn’t participate in more of the discussions going on in the restaurant, but it was fun to watch and listen to everyone else interacting.  Having the only English in the place spoken only at your table does make you feel that you’ve stepped into another world for a litte while!

Pluses: The food is a huge plus, everything was very tasty.  Service – our server was fun and friendly.  Ambiance – It’s obvious the owner has put a lot of time and energy into making the little homey restaurant look nice.

Minuses: Like I said, the rice was pretty dry.  The tables are fairly close together, but the restaurant is small.  I would imagine on a Friday or Saturday night, if the place is really busy, that it could feel really crowded.

Overall Impression:  I loved it.  It had a great atmosphere, and great food, and we will definitely go back again!  My rating overall is a solid 3.5 napkins, leaning toward 4. 

~The Critical Wife

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 29 Sep 2008 @ 03:25 PM

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