It's no wonder that this bright little Cuban café is always packed at lunchtime.
Paladar Café Cubano, San Francisco FiDi
Lunchtime at Paladar
The Latin music keeps things lively -- as does the addictive Café con Leche, and the Mexican Coca-Cola made with real cane sugar, all 39 grams/serving of it.
The regulars are stoked to be back -- on my first visit, I actually overheard a dapper gentleman in a panama hat and seersucker exclaim to no one in particular, "Man! This place rocks!" as he salsa'd out the door.
And then there is the food -- warm, inviting, and satisfying.
Picadillo, Paladar Café Cubano
Other than wanting to marry the Cuban Sandwich, you may also find yourself wanting to have babies with the Picadillo Cubano estilo Elena.
Niman ground beef, browned and seasoned with sautéed onions, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, green olives, raisins, and herbs, the result is an intensely aromatic Cuban version of an Italian ragu. The Picadillo is served with fluffy white rice and fried sweet plantains.
The sandwiches and mains are also served with a side of mixed greens. Nice touch. Sometimes it is drizzled with a heavenly coconut milk dressing, other times with a garlic aioli.
In Cuba, paladares are small family-run restaurants that serve home-cooking. While the space at Paladar Café Cubano may be small, the flavors are big. Big, bold, and comforting. This is food that makes you smile.