Seven Destinations for Cuban Cuisine Around D.C.

Savor the island’s rich food — and music

31 Aug Seven Destinations for Cuban Cuisine Around D.C.

From refreshing cocktails to such staples as Cuban sandwiches and vaca frita, here’s where to savor Cuba’s cuisine in grand nightclub-like establishments or an intimate neighborhood restaurants. Make sure to order a can of Materva, since no Cuban meal is complete without this mate-derived soft drink.

While once-popular options Banana Cafe in Capitol Hill and longtime Adams Morgan favorite Habana Village are now closed (the latter recently reopened as a sports bar), there are still several Cuban restaurants from which to choose. Here are some worth seeking out— for a convincing taste of Cuba in the Washington area, the journey to the suburbs may be worth your while.

Note: The featured restaurants are not ranked. The map is arranged geographically from north to south.

Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Cuba De Ayer

15446 Old Columbia Pike
Burtonsville, MD 20866
(301) 476-9622

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This family restaurant in Eastern Montgomery County offers a full menu of Cuban staples. Colorful dining rooms are decorated with artwork that celebrates the nation’s musical traditions, and live music on weekends completes the festive atmosphere.

Oxtail and plantains
 Cuba de Ayer/Facebook

2. Cuban Corner

825 Hungerford Dr
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 279-0310

This small eatery in an unassuming Rockville strip makes some of the best Cuban food in the region. Owner Joaquin Cabrejas hails from Oriente Province, whose cuisine ramps up the cumin that is often downplayed in Cuban restaurants. The result, in such recent specials as Picadillo de Oriente (pictured), is a spicy and thoroughly satisfying meal.

Picadillo de Oriente
 Pat Padua

3. Colada Shop (Sterling)

21430 Epicerie Plaza
Sterling, VA 20164
(703) 429-1362

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Before there was the Logan Circle Colada Shop, there was this Sterling destination for Cuban eats with a a walk-up counter meal and a large patio. Find mojitos, tres leches, empanadas, croquetas, and more.

Photo: R. Lopez

4. Cubano’s

1201 Fidler Ln
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 563-4020

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The fried beef dish vaca frita is a good measure of a Cuban restaurant’s quality, and it’s one of the reliable mainstays at this Silver Spring favorite.

Vaca frita
 Pat Padua

5. Mi Cuba Cafe

1424 Park Rd NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 813-3489

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This cozy spot in Columbia Heights excels in one of the most elusive elements of authentic Cuban food: its signature bread, which is made specially for the cafe.

Cubano and plantains
 Deb G./Yelp

6. Colada Shop

1405 T St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 332-8800

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With strong coffee and even stronger mojitos, this vibrant spot expanded from its Sterling, Virginia, outpost to open up a sidewalk cafe just off 14th Street NW, where it has quickly become a bustling, vital part of the cityscape. Whether you dine in for a hearty sandwich, stop by to pick up coffee and flaky pastelitos, or sip cocktails on the patio, you’ll keep coming back.

Don C./Yelp

7. Havana Cafe

1825 I St NW # ll-6
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 293-5303

This foodcourt counter offers a limited but hearty menu that includes Cuban sandwiches and a rich “shredded beef”—which is really the Cuban standby ropa vieja.

Ask for shredded beef at this downtown food court and you get ropa vieja in a rich gravy. 
Pat Padua

Frank Rodriguez Junior
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