The restaurant 90 Miles Cuban Cafe (2540 W. Armitage Ave. and 3101 N. Clybourn Ave.; www.90milescubancafe.com ) has a back story that is quintessentially American. The cafe takes its name from the distance it took for owner Alberto Gonzalez to travel with his family from Cuba to Florida.
Gonzalez opened the cafe with his wife Christina in 2008. Their nephew, Anthony Cruz, is the operations manager of the Armitage location.
The cafe was recently featured on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Since then, Cruz told Savor, they have had visitors come from all over the world to try their authentic Cuban cuisine.
Serving traditional family recipes, the cafe is festooned with eclectic decorations that create a lively, inviting and distinctly Cuban atmosphere. In addition, every Tuesday night features live Cuban jazz from 7 p.m.-9:30 p.m., and a saxophonist and pianist perform from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. every Sunday.
"Savory" was the first word that came to mind when I bit into my appetizer, the chicken tamal. I loved both the texture and flavor. As for my friend's masitas de puerco (pork chunks) appetizer, he liked the balance of ingredients and said that fresh lime definitely enhanced the dish.
My bistec de palomilla was unlike any steak sandwich I've ever eaten and had just the right amount of kick. I loved it. Opting for a tilapia filet, my dining companion chose the sandwich de pescado. What stood out for him was that the tartar sauce enhanced the fish without overpowering the entire sandwich.
Of course, we couldn't go without dessert. The bread pudding was a perfect blend of sweet (but not too sweet) ingredients; it was the best bread pudding I've ever tasted. As for the pastelitos, my friend pointed out that the guava and cheese inside the pastries played off of each other perfectly.
Along with the cafe, 90 Miles also offers takeout and catering services, and will even roast a whole pig during a catered event. Seating ranges between 75-100 people depending on the season (patio service is available) and as for alcohol service, it's BYOB.
Visiting 90 Miles Cuban Cafe made me want to seek out other restaurants featuring authentic food from other areas of the globe. The food was that good, and I definitely plan on returning.