Cuban Island Restaurant
Being born and raised in Miami, and having Cuban heritage, I often crave authentic, home-style Cuban cuisine. Luckily, I stumbled upon Cuban Island Restaurant while visiting Melbourne & The Beaches.This friendly, pequeño restaurant is located in Indialantic on A1A across the street from the Hilton Melbourne Beach Oceanfront.
My wife and I arrived around 9:30 p.m. on a Thursday evening and the place was packed, so we chose to sit at the bar. Knowing the popularity of this place now, we will certainly make reservations for our next visit. The atmosphere is simple, comfortable and clean. There were a few high-top tables outside, so you can enjoy the ocean breeze and salty air. You can also admire the owner’s two classic cars on display: a 1951 Chevy and a 1953 Buick.
The menu is extensive including Cuban breakfast (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.), lunch specials, appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and meat, chicken, pork, seafood and pasta entrees as well as a kids’ menu. Breakfast, lunch and sandwiches range in price from $7.50 to $20 and entrees from $15 to $29 with the seafood items being the highest priced.
Our waiter presented us with four slices of buttery, pressed Cuban bread, a dollop of pickled deviled ham and Cuban onion “salsa” for dipping or drizzling. Simple and flavorful with a hint of classiness. In addition to the full liquor bar, there is a nice selection of wines both by the glass and bottle as well as a few beers. We ordered a glass of Montes, a red blend.
My wife can usually tell if she will like the rest of a Cuban restaurant’s food by how good the croquets are, so that was the first appetizer ordered. These homemade, crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside ham croquets did not disappoint and laid a good foundation for the rest of our meal. We also ordered a tamale as an additional appetizer and for dinner a medianoche sandwich and Cuban palomilla, which paired nicely with the red wine.
The pork stuffed, corn meal tamale topped with roasted pork was beautifully presented in a corn husk with a side of homemade garlic sauce. The pork was moist and flavorful complimenting the tamale perfectly. The combination of flavors left us wanting more. The medianoche sandwich (slices of harm, roasted pork, pickles, Swiss cheese and mustard on pressed sweet bread) reminded me of what I would be served in Miami. You just can’t go wrong with a good medianoche sandwich.
While overall, the depth of flavor of everything we ate at Cuban Island Restaurant was impressive, the star of the night for me was the Cuban palomilla. This took me back to my childhood because it tasted just the way my dad used to make it. This Cuban style top sirloin is a thin, flat tenderized cut cooked with caramelized onions creating a full bodied sauce that sort of marinates the meat. I ordered mine true Cuban style with black beans, rice and maduros (sweet plantains). When all the flavors come together with the garlic sauce you drizzle on top it is like an explosion of flavor; the savory blend of tender, perfectly seasoned, juicy sirloin which the rice and beans soak up nicely and the hint of sweetness from the caramelized onions and maduros. And speaking of sweetness, the meal ended with an order of caramel flan which was outstanding and satisfying without being overdone.
We had an opportunity to meet and speak with Chef Henry who is rather humble but exudes an authentic passion for cooking. He shared that one of his favorite things to cook is paella, which is a popular dish at the restaurant. After speaking with him and eating his food it is clear to me that he cooks from the heart.
Whether, like me, you are craving that authentic Cuban flavor or you have never had Cuban food before, Cuban Island Restaurant is a great place to dine and you won’t have to travel all the way to Miami for some truly authentic Cuban cuisine.
2910 N. A1A
Indialantic, FL 32903