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Cuba de Ayer, Route 198 in Burtonsville - Chef Mayra Lopez and Owners Jessica and William Rodriguez


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Just returned from my second foray up to Cuba de Ayer in Burtonsville. Excellent traditional Cuban dishes. Great soup, great picadillo and ropa viejo, and the best flan I've ever come across---very dense, served in wedges like a torte. Crispy tostones and maduros. They also have Cuban sandwiches which I haven't yet tried but they looked good at the next table. Unfortunately a ways out (about 15 minutes past Silver Spring on Rt 29) It's located on Rt. 198 about 300 yards west of Rt. 29, in a strip center towards the back and a bit out of sight from the road, on the North side. But worth the drive. Better than Cubanos, and definitely better than Cuban Corner IMO. Eve Z. gave it a good write-up a few months ago. And if you go on a Friday eve. the Amish farmers' market on the corner will be open and that by itself is also worth the trip. Highly recommended.

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Wanted to put in a good word for Cuba de Ayer after having a wonderful meal there tonight. My wife's family is from Miami so she knows good Cuban. We have been to Cuban Corner and Cubano's as well and we feel that Cuba de Ayer is the best of the bunch. The fried items, beef empanada, maduros and papa rellena (beef-stuffed in a fried potato mash), were excellent. Our main dishes were two classic items: beef palomilla and lechon asado (roast pork). Again, both were deftly cooked and we especially liked the citrus/garlic flavor of the pork with some caramelized onions mixed in. The sides of black beans and rice were nice as well, with the rice having that buttery sheen and the beans with the right pork/bacon flavor. The kids had a Cubano sandwich and fries---again, nicely executed.

We shared a flan for dessert and it was one of the best we've had in the DC area.

This gem of a place deserves more positive recognition!

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I finally had the Sandwich Cubano ($7.50) at Cuba de Ayer, and it's good and clean. Cuban sandwiches are often deceptively caloric due to the spatula full of spread on the baguette, but this version seems to rely more on mustard, and at least gives the perception of being lighter.

Maybe one day I'll go to a Cuban restaurant and not order Ropa Vieja ($13.99), because like with the Cuban Sandwich, I tend to enjoy the name more than the actual dish. Still, when you only eat at a Cuban restaurant a few times a year, you tend to stick with the favorites, and Cuba de Ayer's is a hearty plateful with a moderately heavy roast in the tomato sauce. With a choice of either Maduros or Tostones, it's better to order the sweeter maduros with the Ropa Vieja.

But the more austere tostones work well with the Camarones al Ajillo ($15.99), about ten medium-sized shrimp in a garlic sauce beautifully cut by lemon. It's very common to find overcooked shrimp in a dish such as this, but these were perfectly executed, and this was my favorite dish of the meal.

Both entrees come with either Arroz Blanco with Frijoles Negros, or the two mixed together as Moros y Cristianos. It's rare when I order coffee in the afternoon, but after a heavy 3 PM lunch, a Cafe con Leche ($2.50) is exactly what I needed to get me through the day.

I'm glad to see Cuba de Ayer getting the attention it deserves in the press.

Cheers,

Rocks.

NB Lunch prices are substantially lower than this Monday through Friday.

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Lechon Asado with Moros y Cristianos and Sweet plantains is my go-to here. Ham croquettes are great too, especially in a sandwich.

Went there tonight and we ended up getting four different dishes and sampling each others, and the above was very good. The moros y cristianos might have been my favorite rice dish I've had in the area, but I'm not normally the biggest rice fan. I got the bistec palomilla and I thought it was done very well, a nice use of the spices and the onions added a little but more flavor. The two other dishes were a pork and a steak/beef option (I forget) and they were both good too, everyone had a different favorite. It's certainly hidden and I've never been to the other Cuban restaurants mentioned (may have to go to an authentic place when in Miami in November) but definitely worth it.

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My husband and I went there Friday night. I ordered the usual, Ropa Vieja, and it was as good as I remember from last time. My husband is more adventurous, and ordered a pork dish that tasted a bit like pork confit. He loved it. The biggest surprise, however, was the new Drinks menu (before they had only Mojitos - very good, by the way). We ordered a couple, and they were delicious. Nice addition to the menu.

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Excellent lunch today.  I've had the cubano sandwich as take out in the past and was happy enough with it.  Today I dined in, and had the pernil and tostones.

The pork was nicely marinated and savory on its own, but even better when sprinkled liberally with the house hot sauce.  On the whole, the medium sized chunks of pork were juicy, although one or two were creeping up to dryness (but still good).  Mixed in with the pork were great strips of deeply carmelized onion that I wish there were more of.  I got the rice and black beans separated, and would recommend this as the way to go.  You get more of the broth with the beans this way, and if you aren't dipping your tostones in that, you're doing it wrong.

Service was pleasant and efficient despite the restaurant being full.

Next time, I'll have to go for the ropa vieja.

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Hard to believe my last post for Cuba de Ayer was 12 years ago!  Still go 3 or 4 times a year.  I've noticed a bit of degradation over the last few years.   Mojitos used to be awesome---now fairly weak and not as flavorful.   Black beans not as smoky or porky.  My standard, lechon asado, has seen less succulent pork and onions and less of a bright garlic/lemon flavor. Empanadas, fried plantains and cafe con leche steady and good.

Still, it is the best Cuban I've found in the area and like it enough to keep going.  Looking forward to the best Cuban food on the next trip to Miami! 

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Last there in September.  Would love it if the black beans have improved.  Forgot to mention the Cubano.....kids usually get it and I steal a few bites.  It's good though I find the bread lacking.

I really do like this place and you can't get better Cuban in these parts.   Just have the reference point of Cuban food in South Florida in my head........

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