Last night, we tried out our second-to-last new ethnic food! You may recall, this year, we’ve eaten Korean food, Ethiopian food, and Spanish food (the latter of which we get to try out again this month for a Groupon!), but now, we’ve added Cuban food to the list!
We did sample some Cuban food in Atlantic City. This is the maraquitas Cubanas appetizer from Cuba Libre at the Tropicana hotel and casino. There were three types of chips (plantain, yuca, and malanga) and a bunch of dips whose names we can’t pronounce. Everything was delicious, but since we only got an appetizer, we chose not to count it *officially* for this Achievement.
The trade-off on not counting Cuba Libre was that we would have to try a Cuban restaurant in Pittsburgh, so last night, we stopped into the Black Bean on Atwood Street for dinner. They are a small chain, with all but one of their locations in Florida. So, even though it’s technically a franchise deal, we felt like it was a unique Pittsburgh restaurant!
Black Bean is primarily takeout, but they do have a seating area and a full bar. I imagine they would get a decent amount of lunch business with people coming down from the hospitals and colleges in Oakland.
We started with two small appetizers to sample some different Cuban specialties. These are the croquetas, which are basically cheese sticks, with ham inside, instead of cheese. They were super hot but yummy!
This is the papa rellena, which is seasoned ground beef inside a fried ball of mashed potatoes. I don’t think your arteries would let you eat one of these more than once every few months, but it was quite good to split. It was very crispy on the outside.
For our entree, we decided to split a plate to make up for the crazy greasiness of the appetizers. We got the fried chicken dinner with black bean soup and rice. There was something really great about the seasoning on the chicken – it was almost sweet, but still salty. That chunk of bread is their ‘Cuban bread,’ which tasted kind of like the awesome garlic toast at Tom’s Diner on the South Side, and the round things are tostones, which are twice-fried green plantains. They were awesome to dip in the black bean soup.
Finally, one glance at the dessert menu convinced us to save a little room: they have churros!! Michael loves churros. Like, loves them. See evidence below:
So you can understand the joy in his face when a basket of four churros arrived. Churro overload. They were good – perfect application of cinnamon, but a little too crunchy for our high churro standards. Still, a good ending to the meal!
So, if you’ve got some calories to spare, Black Bean is an awesome choice. I think they are more geared toward takeout, but the service for dining-in was good as well. You do your ordering at the counter, but the bartender or waitress will bring the food to your table once it’s ready. They are open until 9 most days (perhaps later during the week) and are located at 239 Atwood Street.