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America, butter, entrees, fish, florida, florida restaurants, restaurants, Shanghai, weekend nom

Weekend Nom: Havana Hideout

02.13.11 | 3 Comments

Sometimes when I’m bored, I like to play a game: What would I eat right now if I were in China? Usually the answer is eggplant, Sichuan, Muslim, tofu—ok well I’d eat pretty much any Chinese food.

When I was living in China I used to play this game but change it to What would I eat now if I were in the States? Sometimes, strangely enough, the answer was macaroni and cheese, but quite often I just wanted some good Mexican food. As many expats in China and long-time readers of my blog will know, it is no easy feat to get a decent taco in China. At least not at a restaurant. China has plenty of delicious Indian and Italian restaurants, and numerous European restaurants of passable caliber. There are even decent Brazilian barbecues. But somehow, Mexican and tacos are an untapped market.

I spent many a day on a Taco Quest, and this is the closest I came to good.

ellis friedman plate of wander cantina agave

Oh, wait. That’s not a taco.

One thing we all learned from the “Wet Foot Dry Foot” policy is that Florida is close to Cuba. Hence, there must be a lot of decent Cuban food. And there is.

For John’s birthday last week, we went with his mom Ann to Havana Hideout, a cool little tropical-looking dive in downtown Lake Worth. Apparently it’s famous because Guy Fieri went there and ate some things and put it on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I don’t really know much about Guy Fieri, but I want his job. Plus, if there are some good tacos involved, count me in.

Ergo, I ordered the fish tacos.

Honestly, they were a little disappointing. The pineapple was a nice touch and the fish had a nice texture, but the tortillas were a bit soggy from their oil bath and the overall flavor didn’t do much for me.

I all but abandoned my taco for John’s Cuban sandwich.

This was hands down the best Cuban sandwich I’ve had so far, even better than the Cuban sandwich I tasted down in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. It was melty and smooshy, since the bread slathered in butter had been pressed under a brick, and though I don’t normally like pickles, they added a delightful briny crunch.

Ann had been there a few times so she knew what she was doing. She ordered the platter called Get What Guy Got, which consists of a fish taco, half a Cuban sandwich, and a small pionono.

I had never heard of pionono, the Cuban version of which is a delicious blend of spiced ground beef with plantains on top. According to this video of the Havana Hideout chef making pionono, what makes those plantains so darn delicious is a lot of butter, oil, and egg yolk.

Just in case you were worried about how to get your daily value of fat, I’ve found your solution.

So now I find myself on the reverse taco quest—find some edible Chinese in this joint—but I know I’ll probably be left to my own kitchen for that one.

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