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Little Ricky's, Cuban in Brookland - A Paladar (Mom-n-Pop) on 12th and Newton Street NE

Brookland Cuban Paladar

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#1 New Foodie

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 09:57 AM

I can't complain about another new restaurant opening in Brookland. Keep 'em coming! Little Ricky's is actually doing a two weekend soft opening before the general opening in December. It is on the main stretch of 12th St in Brookland (between Newton and Monroe). You can see a sample menu here. Although for the soft opening they are doing a rotating 4-course prix-fixe menu for $25 (with a couple of choices per course).

I really like the restaurant's decor and layout. There are maybe 7 or 8 four-tops, 2 tall two-tops, and then perhaps 12 or so stools at the bar. Large paintings from a Cuban artist cover the walls. And they bring your check in a Cuban guidebook, which I thought was cute.

We went last night, and despite a few expected new restaurant hiccups, enjoyed our experience. We had made a 7pm reservation, but they were running way behind by the time we got there. We got a seat at the bar to wait, but we didn't get seated until around 7:40. They were very nice and apologetic, bringing us each a complimentary glass of wine at the table once we were seated, and we were certainly willing to overlook something like this on one of the first nights open.

Our choices last night were (What we had doesn't necessarily show up on the proposed official menu, but it sounds like they may be changing some things around):

Sunday Nov 11th Pre-Fixe Menu
Soup Course – Sopa de Marisco (fish and shrimp soup) or Caldo Gallego Soup (white bean soup)
Appetizer Course - Garbanzo Refrito con Chorizo, Ham and Cheese Croquettas, or Picadillo Sliders
Main Course – Tio Pio’s Grilled Chicken, Grilled Fish of the day or Masa de Puerco (fried pork with onions)
Sides – Black beans & rice, plus choice of 1 (Maduros, Yuca con Mojo, Tater Tots, and Grilled veggie medley)
Dessert Course - Cuban bread pudding, Mango Ice Cream, or Rice pudding

Between the four of us I think we tried most everything available. I really liked the Caldo Gallego Soup, which was a thick white bean soup made smoky with ham. The Garbanzo Refrito was a ridiculously large serving, and although I didn't get that much flavor from the chorizo, it was still tasty. I think the best appetizer we tried though were the Croquettas. Perfectly fried and gooey on the inside. These are on the regular menu and we would certainly get them again.

Our server was the owners' brother/brother-in-law, and the namesake of Tio Pio's grilled chicken, so after explaining to us how it is cooked, he actually brought out a gratis portion for us between our soup and appetizer to share. He chargrills it with a closed lid to keep in the juices, and marinates it in Cuban spices. Then makes a sauce out of those same spices to top it. We all liked it a lot. I had the Masa de Puerco, which I thought was delicious. Hard to go wrong with fried pork. The Maduros (fried sweet plantains) were also great.

Dessert was the one course that none of us loved. The Cuban bread pudding was too cold and dense. I am not a huge fan of Rice Pudding, but others thought it was ok. The mango ice cream got the best reviews (especially when the leftover fruit from the sangria carafe was poured on top).

I can't speak to the authenticity of the Cuban food, but I can say that I liked it and am glad to have it in the neighborhood. The owners and servers were all very nice and friendly, the food was good, the space was lovely, and I'm looking forward to returning.

-Jenny

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie. ~Jim Davis, Garfield"


#2 jasonc

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 10:22 AM

Great write-up New Foodie. One quibble is that my limited Spanish tells me you might have mismatched the names of the soups!

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#3 Pat

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 10:35 AM

I love the name :) . Will have to keep this place in mind for future dining.

#4 New Foodie

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 12:44 PM

Great write-up New Foodie. One quibble is that my limited Spanish tells me you might have mismatched the names of the soups!


Right you are...obviously my knowledge of Spanish is next to non-existent! :huh:

I love the name :) . Will have to keep this place in mind for future dining.


They do have pictures of Lucy and Ricky (and of course Little Ricky) on the bathroom doors :)

-Jenny

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie. ~Jim Davis, Garfield"


#5 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 01:57 PM

I had to look up "paladar."

#6 DonRocks

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 10:04 PM

I had to look up "paladar."


So did the rest of us. :) Thanks for the write-up, Jenny.

Did anyone besides me read "The Mambo Kings Play Songs Of Love?" It won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990, but boy I sure didn't think it was all that good. Anyway, it had Desi Arnaz as an ongoing theme throughout the novel - I suspect Arnaz was probably the most famous Cuban in the western Hemisphere until Castro seized power.

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#7 New Foodie

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 07:07 PM

Anyone else tried Little Ricky's yet? It's still not open Monday - Wednesday, but they now have lunch and dinner Thursday - Saturday, and brunch and dinner on Sunday. We hadn't been back since the soft opening weekend in early November, but both sets of parents were in town this weekend, so we took them, along with my brother. Our only complaint was that the 7 of us were squeezed into one of the front tables in the window (they claim it can seat 8 but I don't see how that's possible). Otherwise, from service to food to price we couldn't have been more pleased.

 

When we first sat down they brought out a small jar of pickled vegetables (squash, zucchini, onion, carrot) with some lime and hot sauce to share at the table. Interesting little amuse.

 

For starters we shared the Ham Croquettas ($4.50 for 4) and Tostones topped with Chicharrones ($4.95 for 3). The croquettas were as good as they were on our first visit. Four jalapeno popper-sized nuggets, which when cut in half allowed each person a good bite. Not greasy or overly rich. The tostones were nice as well. Green plantains that had been mashed and flattened into little disks then fried and topped with fried pork rinds and some pickled onions. Good meatiness from the pork and crunch from the plantains.

 

The table ordered from all over the menu (Cuban Fried Chicken, Pollo Navaro - Roasted Chicken, Bolicho - Round Steak Stuffed with Chorizo, Masas de Puerco Fritas - fried pork, and two daily specials). I had one of the specials that was roasted leg of pig that apparently had been cooked for over 30 hours. It was a couple of slices along with some crispy skin and it was pretty fabulous. So moist and tender with a nice flavor of citrus and cumin. If this is on the menu when you visit, I highly recommend it. The +1 liked the bolicho, but he thought it was slightly dry and tough, despite being a good flavor. The bites I had of my parents' fried chicken and pollo navaro were both excellent. Each of the entrees comes with rice and black beans which both are more flavorful than I have had at many places. Then you get a choice of an additional side and I went with the maduras (sweet plantains) again...so good I just wish there were more than two chunks on the plate! Entrees range from around $11-18 and are all a large amount of food. Definitely a good value.

 

This visit made us regret waiting almost 3 months between visits. Since it's only a few blocks away (and only one of two decent restaurants in the neighborhood!) we'll have to get back there soon. Curious to try the brunch at some point.


-Jenny

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie. ~Jim Davis, Garfield"


#8 New Foodie

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Posted 25 February 2014 - 12:26 PM

I haven't been back for dinner since my review above, but finally made it for brunch this weekend. When we walked in around 12:15pm on Sunday, the place was full with the exception of one table and maybe one bar stool. So I guess it's popular for brunch!

 

We definitely liked everything we had, and are eager to return (especially since it's only a few blocks walk for us). And they had high chairs!

 

We started with Tostones ($3.75 Fried Green Plantains) since they were out of Maduros, which were nice and crispy with some garlic and onion. As a break from the prune pieces and puffs our 9 month old ("The Bug") was stuffing in her mouth, she seemed to enjoy the bites of tostone as well.

 

We then shared the Challah French Toast ($7.95 filled with Bavarian creme with dulche de leche and apple). They also have options plain, bananas foster, and Grand Marnier & chocolate. I believe there were three large pieces of toast, covered with creme, caramel, and apples. It was indulgent, but very good. We also Lolita's Black Bean, Chorizo, and Queso Omelet ($8.75 served with home fries). Good-sized omelet stuffed with the named ingredients and good seasoning. The Bug seemed to be a fan of the black beans in here as well.

 

Despite the price listing on the online menu, Mimosas are actually $5 and Bloody Marys $7, which is still not bad compared to nearby options. I don't think they had a bottomless option, but not sure.

 

Glad to have this in the 'hood!


-Jenny

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie. ~Jim Davis, Garfield"


#9 Barbara

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Posted 25 February 2014 - 02:26 PM

Did anyone besides me read "The Mambo Kings Play Songs Of Love?" It won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990, but boy I sure didn't think it was all that good. Anyway, it had Desi Arnaz as an ongoing theme throughout the novel - I suspect Arnaz was probably the most famous Cuban in the western Hemisphere until Castro seized power.

 

Sorry not to see this before now. Yes, I read it when it first came out in paperback and was pretty much revolted by what I considered the pornographic aspects of it. I thought it would have been much, much better without all that gratuitousness.

 

And, if somebody makes better Masitas de Puerco than I do at home, I'd be very interested in it. And, does anybody besides me detest Tostones?







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