Monday, September 25, 2017     Volume: 18, Issue: 29
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Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Cubanissimo makes a triumphant debut in Orcutt

REBECCA ROSE

It’s finally here. Following some long months of anticipation, Cubanissimo food truck has finally found its permanent home.


MMM PORK
You can never go wrong with pork. Cubanissimo’s puerco frito, a fried pork dish served with onions and rice, is a standout on their menu.
PHOTO BY REBECCA ROSE

I grew up in South Florida, where we had a lot of home-cooked Cuban food around. It’s hard to get authentic Cuban food in some regions (aside from the staple “Cuban” sandwich at some sandwich shops, which is oftentimes just a ham and cheese panini passing itself off as a Cuban). But Cubanissimo, based out of Santa Maria, has been serving up 100 percent authentic Cuban food for the past several years from the window of a food truck, with a massive following on Facebook and Instagram.

Owners Chrystal and Arqui Trenado now have a brand new home for their delicious spin on Cuban food, thanks to the newly opened Cubanissimo Cuban Coffee House and Cafe in Orcutt. 

Loyal food truck fans will know which items to snap up from the menu immediately. You’ll definitely find favorites like the Cubano and medianoche sandwiches. Sides include items such as black beans, rice, tostones, and yuca fries, one of the only acceptable substitutes for french fries that exists (go home sweet potato fries, you are drunk).


PLANTAIN POWER
Twice-fried mashed plantains served with a garlic dipping sauce are just one of the highlights at Cubanissimo’s new restaurant in Orcutt, which opened in August.
PHOTO BY REBECCA ROSE

If you’re new to the Cubanissimo experience, I might suggest picking a few items from the pequeños menu. These are small plates, so you can sample a few things (this is an experience best shared with friends). I also think their empanadas are exceptional and you shouldn’t leave without at least trying one of the croquettas. These are all unique bites of food that don’t feel heavy or overly processed; the Trenados’ menu has a markedly home-cooked feel that still permeates through every single dish.

Tostones are one of my favorite foods ever invented by the food gods. They have everything; they’re salty, crunchy, soft in the middle, and have just the right amount of sweetness. Tostones are fried plantains, and once you get the hang of working with the texture of the product, they are fairly easy to make at home. But why do all the work when you can get them freshly prepared at Cubanissimo, along with a garlic dipping sauce that everyone seems to be raving about. It’s seriously good with everything; we dipped our sandwiches and empanadas in it and it worked perfectly.


IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR
Cubanos and medianoche (“midnight”) sandwiches both feature ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard, but medianoches are served on a sweet Cuban bread.
PHOTO BY REBECCA ROSE

But the No. 1 dish I recommend, one I think truly represents what Cubanissimo does best, is the puerco frito. This is a dish of fried pork served with rice made by marinating chunks of meat in a mojo sauce. It’s then boiled with fat/lard until all the water evaporates and then sauteed in the melted fat. You have to understand the texture on the outside is going to be a bit firm or crispy at first bite (it’s not “dry” or “overcooked,” so stop saying that, Yelpers) but the inside is so tender and is filled with the sweet and spicy juices of the marinade.

If you’re a diehard Cuban food fan, you’re probably anxiously reading this waiting for me to get to the best part: the drinks. Yes, Cubanissimo has all your faves, including Café Cubano, Colada, Café con Leche, Cortadito, Café Bombón, and more. They also have beer and, most importantly, they serve guava mimosas. Goodbye Sunday productivity, hello guava mimosa brunches at Cubanissimo.

Speaking of Cuban drinks, in Miami, almost on every corner, is a shop selling what’s known as Ironbeer. It’s a cola that dates back to 1917 and was invented in Cuba. It’s got a pretty fascinating and deeply political history (the founders were exiled after Fidel Castro took power and later restarted the brand in Miami; an attempted deal with juicemaker Tropicana years later would bankrupt and nearly end the company). Ironbeer, which is served at Cubanissimo, tastes unique and fun, like if you poured an A&W cream soda into a Dr. Pepper and added a citrus-flavored pixie stick. Yes, it’s sweet, but it also has a deeply rich and caramelized flavor that really compliments some of the robust flavors in the Trenados’ food.

Taste of Cuba
Cubanissimo’s new location features an expanded menu, pastries, beer, and more. Visit them at 4869 S. Bradley Road, Orcutt.

Whether you’ve been a fan for years or you’re just finding out about Cubanissimo now, the new brick-and-mortar restaurant won’t disappoint. Order a little of everything and settle in for an authentic, satisfying experience. 

Eats writer Rebecca Rose deeply misses Mr. Pibb. Contact her at rrose@santamariasun.com.

 


Chili cheese fries from the Lidos food truck.
PHOTO BY REBECCA ROSE

• I’m going to let my friend Lauren take over this part, on Lidos food truck’s chili cheese fries (pictured) because I’m saving all my thoughts on their food truck for an upcoming Eats column. “They were the best combination of fries, chili con carne, and nacho cheese sauce ... 10/10 would eat again.” Lidos is at the Santa Maria Valley YMCA, 3400 Skyway Drive, Santa Maria every Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Riverbench Vineyard and Winery’s Corkjumper brut rosé is kind of a revelation. Described as “lightly perfumed with aromas of lilac and a hint of rosewater,” this wine never feels too sweet or acidic on the palate. It can be a little hard to get, so head out to 6020 Foxen Canyon Road, Santa Maria for your own bottle.




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Jim Mosby
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