Cuban Americans have spread throughout the city and their cuisine has been integrated into the greater culture, meaning that no matter what part of town you live in, you're never too far from mouthwatering lechon or ropa vieja.
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One of the best options is La Bamba Island Cuisine, which has a fun island atmosphere and offers alongside the usual meals atypical offerings for a Cuban restaurant, such as lobster burritos, sweet potato fries and carne asada grilled cheese.
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Everything we’ve had has been pretty superb, so it’s tough to pick, but standbys like ropa vieja, bistec empanizado and picadillo (Cuban hash, made with ground beef) are all good. Their minty mojitos are a must.
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Their comprehensive menu has all the favorites, including great versions of all the aforementioned dishes, plus a spectacular garlic-roasted chicken topped with a heap of raw onions and served with a side of black beans and fried plantains.
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All of the pastries are superior to ones you’ll get elsewhere in SoCal, including the ham-filled croquettas, which we could probably eat 20 of in one sitting. Tropicana serves great meals, including delicious moros & fried pork chunks.
From ground-beef-filled savory pastries and fried potato balls to guava-stuffed sweet pastries and café con leche, everything from Porto’s is spectacular. Avoid the line for takeaway pastries by ordering and dining in at their sit-down space next door.
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Slightly pricier than La Caridad but equally delicious, El Cochinito’s special is the lechon asado (slow-roasted pork), which is so tantalizingly juicy that we can’t finish typing this sentence without our mouths watering.
Perhaps our favorite Cuban restaurant, its as down-home as they come. Savory bistec empanizado (breaded steak) and delicious black beans with a drizzle of olive oil are some of the menu's strong points, with revolving dishes in the $8 to $12 range.