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.
1. Cuba De Ayer
Burtonsville, MD 20866
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.
2. Cuban Corner
Rockville, MD 20850
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.
3. Colada Shop (Sterling)
Sterling, VA 20164
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.
Silver Spring, MD 20910
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.
5. Mi Cuba Cafe
Washington, DC 20010
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.
6. Colada Shop
Washington, DC 20009
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.
7. Havana Cafe
Washington, DC 20006
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.