Cuba Libre, Washington DC’s hoppin’ homage to Havana just north of Chinatown unveiled its “Tapas Tuesdays” last week to a group of lucky Latin-crazed foodies. The weekly special, which will last indefinitely, allows patrons unlimited access to the restaurant’s arsenal of 25 tasty tapas dishes for just $26.95 (the special must be ordered by everyone at the table). The sheer magnitude of some of the offerings is enough to satisfy the hungriest of diners after three tapas but the adventurous one (who’ll be smart to get in that jog the next day) will go for more.
Tops on everybody’s list should be the Levanta Muerto Seafood Soup. Translated as “raise the dead” soup, many of the sea’s wonders (shrimp, Baja Bay scallops, crab meat and mussels) are doused in a Chino-Cubano coconut milk broth to create a most death-defying dining experience. It will make you feel alive (in every sense of the phrase), which must be inspiration for the soup’s name.
Almost as fantastic is the Grilled Baby Octopus dish. A handful of these attractive ocean dwellers, grilled to the optimal spongy texture, perch atop a Haitian eggplant salad that gives the Greeks a run for their money.
Another must is the Papas Rellenas, due to its delightful combination of beef picadillo and sweet n’ sour guajillo pepper sauce -- a tangy mixture to say the least. The stuffed Cuban potato rolls achieve a formidable crisp while still allowing your fork to cut into them like a stick of butter to reveal the surprise that awaits you.
A final highlight from the 25 selections that comprise the tapas special is the Cuban Sandwich Spring
Roll. Simple yet delicious, the plate tastes exactly how it reads – a Cuban sandwich rolled into a spring roll. You’ll be left wondering why you never thought about doing it yourself.
Cap off your dining experience with a cup of Café Cuba Libre – a cup of authentic Cuban coffee blended with coconut milk. If this cup of joe was able to impress a non-coffee drinker, it will surely do wonders to a normal person.
DO NOT LEAVE THE RESTAURANT without ordering Tres Leches for dessert – vanilla sponge cake covered with mocha mousse and soaked three dolce-de-leche flavored milks. “Oh, my God” is all this food blogger could muster.