Yesterday I mentioned that Via Argentina was a micro cosmos of the cosmopolitan cuisine. I have one more example of this true statement. At Via Argentina you can find a corner of Cuba which competes in every way, shape or form with Little Havana of Miami. This place is El Rincón Habanero.
Rincón Habanero is a tiny place with only 10 feet wide of facade. Inside you will find six lilliputian tables, a small but totally-stocked bar and a large TV plasma. Inside you’ll also find a solitary but extremely friendly waiter. Its table linen serves two functions; to cover the tables and to display the restaurant’s menu.
At Rincón Habanero, the flavors and smells of Cuban food will transport you instantly to the beautiful island of Cuba. Its music, decorations, and people will make you feel you’re at the exotic island of José Martí, while you enjoy plantains stuffed with seafood, moros, Cuban yuca mojos and the succulent pernil, a traditional pork tenderloin oven-cooked in order to keep it juicy, moist and full of its unique flavor.
Jose Manuel Rodriguez opened the restaurant in late 2005 and explains his place is a favorite spot for Cubans in Panama, especially musical artists.
While dining, you can see Adalberto Alvarez, The Aragón Orquesta, The Van Van, and Carlos Varela at a nearby table. A large plasma TV is always displaying a collection of over 100 DVDs including “big band” music, Salsa and Cuban Hip-Hop. While dining, ask for your kind of music and order an ice-cold genuine Cuban beer (Cerveza Bucanero) or a Cuban “mojito” made with real Cuban rum.
Cuban tobacco, cigars and CDs are also sold by Mr. Rodríguez, receiving the approval of its visitors who instantly tag El Rincón Habanero as a place of cultural interest and of consistently tasty meals.
One reader of Lingua Franca recently made this positive comment about El Rincón Habanero:
“The Ropa Vieja and Picadillo at the small Cuban restaurant directly across the street from Trapiche is as good as any I’ve had in the Little Havana section of Miami or in the homes of Cuban families I know here. This recipe for picadillo, which I’ve made several times at home, is spot on for flavor.”
Of course I had to take a couple of pictures of this small corner of Cuba. Here we go.
If you happen to be visiting Panama City and enjoy typical Cuban food and drinks, this place will exceed your expectations. Who knows, maybe Fidel Castro will be there enjoying a “mojito”. Good Day.