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That Cuban Place, Husband And Wife Team Alfredo Maggi and Narcisa Farinas in Frederick - Relocated To E. Church Street


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The comfort food thread inspired me to post this as well as utilize my two hour early dismissal to go to That Cuban Place in Frederick for my own local comfort food. First of all, there is nothing fancy about this place, though they've improved the property immensely after years of neglect by a notorious slumlord (who still owns the place unfortunately). The cooking is also very simple, offering sandwiches and mostly slow cooked entrees that they seem to start early in the morning and serve throughout the day. But nothing speaks to their simplicity as much as the small white board behind the counter where they write the day's specials followed by their motto, "It's all good!" I can say that everything I've had has been at least decent (a mojo marinated bistec being my least favorite b/c it remained tough after slow cooking) but oftentimes things are just wonderful. Today things were wonderful. I was craving comfort food to warm up this sleet-filled day while watching my brackets collapse and surprisingly noticed they had their ropa vieja, which they only guarantee on Thursdays. Slow-cooked in the aforementioned lime-based mojo, the ropa vieja combined with the hefty portions of fried plantains, rice, and beans to hit the spot and provide lots of leftovers for just $8.50.

I especially appreciate the friendliness of of the young Latino couple who own and operate the place. While I was waiting for them to prepare my order today, the owner gave me a free shot of great Cuban coffee ("Hey, I'm having some, so you have to, too") and let me satisfy my curiousity by tasting today's other special--oxtail. I hope that oxtail comes back so I can have a full order because it was extremely rich with lots of flavor-enhancing fat, the main ingredient of comfort food. The owner says that he slow boils the oxtail with lots of bay leaves and then re-uses the leftover liquid for what he considers to be the world's best fatty beef stock. Next week's special is cow tongue. We'll see if I get the guts to try that one.

I think their most popular item is their Cuban sandwich made with authentic Cuban bread, though freshness can make it slide between phenomenal and ok: Before dinner they prepare them ahead of time so they can just throw them on the grill press. Panera does the same thing, but I'm coming here to avoid Panera. As first time restaurant owners and with three people at most running this small place, I'm sure they're still figuring out ways to balance quality and efficiency. They still have things to figure out but deserve to survive as they currently operate on the exact border of Frederick that transitions from the gentility of Third Street to the tatoo magnet of North Market's 300 block. Luckily the winter will soon pass and they won't have to battle the landlord over heating issues for several more months.

The food and atmosphere here are quite satisfying and welcomely free of pretention. I hope they stick around. If in Frederick antiquing and looking for a quick meal, I'd resist the ease of the endless chains and fast-food joints lining Rtes. 40, 85, and 355 and head downtown to enjoy a new part of historic Frederick. 300 North Market St., Frederick, MD 21701. 301-760-7776.

Pax,
Brian

P.S. TCP was mentioned in the Washington Post's shout out that JLK posted, but I've never had the courage to try their empanadas that sit on that rotating warming rack. Not sure even if they're homemade.

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Mayorga in King Farm makes something they call Cuban coffee; don't know if it's authentic.

I am no expert either, but you could call and ask where they get it from and the equipment they use to prepare it. 301-760-7776.

For what it's worth, their takeout menu describes the coffees as following:

Cafecito (Espresso) $1

Colado (To go espresso) $2

Cortadito (More Coffee than Milk) $2.50

Cafe con Leche (More Milk than Coffee) $3

Pax,

Brian

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Thanks for the post, Brian. Is the place kid-friendly? We may have to try it next time we're around. I could seriously mess up a Cuban sammich and a cafecito. Are the sandwiches assembled to order at lunch?

The last time I was in Miami, I had to avoid dairy (my son wasn't tolerating it if I consumed cow's milk and then nursed him), so I never got my mitts on a Cuban sandwich. This is giving me hope that I won't have to wait for my next Florida visit to indulge. (Getting downtown to Ceiba is nearly impossible with a baby in tow, alas.)

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Thanks for the post, Brian. Is the place kid-friendly? We may have to try it next time we're around. I could seriously mess up a Cuban sammich and a cafecito. Are the sandwiches assembled to order at lunch?

The last time I was in Miami, I had to avoid dairy (my son wasn't tolerating it if I consumed cow's milk and then nursed him), so I never got my mitts on a Cuban sandwich. This is giving me hope that I won't have to wait for my next Florida visit to indulge. (Getting downtown to Ceiba is nearly impossible with a baby in tow, alas.)

First, I would say, Ceiba's TCP is not, nor does it pretend to be. It's a very casual quick eats shop run by a Cuban guy who cooks food that he grew up on. Nothing cutting edge but also much more accessible. I'm sure you had gathered that already but I didn't want to set anyone up for false hopes. I definitely think it's kid-friendly but be prepared to deal with teatering tables and plastic-covered tables. I would say that most of their orders are takeout but they probably have about 8 tables and booths seating four each. If you're looking for a good Cuban sandwich in Frederick, you can also get a pretty darn good one at Proof on East Patrick Street. Their dijon mustard burns your nostrils, but they give you a good amount of meat. Nothing Cuban about Proof, but Cuban sandwiches might have been a trite food addition for 2006.

Pax,

Brian

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As a Cubana I enjoyed reading this review. Our food is peasant food and it pleased me that this place is not charging astronomical prices for the likes of. Lengua (tongue) is one of my husband's favorite Cuban dishes, which I refuse to make. Maybe he will take the ride out to Frederick to get a little tongue, cause Lord knows he ain't getting it at home. :o

As for Mayorga Cuban coffee, I buy it for my espresso machine, but it's not the real thing. To make Cuban coffee, you need Bustelo or Pilon brand, and a small Italian coffee pot like this. You pack the coffee in the filter as tight as you can, and brew it. For a coffee maker that brews 1 cup, you take about 1/3 cup of sugar and add three to four drops (literally) of the coffee to it. You beat it with a spoon until it becomes smooth and foamy, then you add the entire contents of the pot. You serve this in espresso cups, but only half full.

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As for Mayorga Cuban coffee, I buy it for my espresso machine, but it's not the real thing. To make Cuban coffee, you need Bustelo or Pilon brand, and a small Italian coffee pot. You pack the coffee in the filter as tight as you can, and brew it. For a coffee maker that brews 1 cup, you take about 1/3 cup of sugar and add three to four drops (literally) of the coffee to it. You beat it with a spoon until it becomes smooth and foamy, then you add the entire contents of the pot. You serve this in espresso cups, but only half full.

Raisa, thanks very much for posting this! I will have to try making it sometime.

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Brian -- tongue, being a smooth muscle with almost no fat and actually tasting like muscle meat, doesn't present many of the drawbacks of organ meats. Mostly the idea. The texture may be too smooth if you're exceedingly picky, it's not grainy like the muscles of the rest of the body.

They seem like the kind of people who would give you a small taste before you ordered it.

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As a Cubana I enjoyed reading this review. Our food is peasant food and it pleased me that this place is not charging astronomical prices for the likes of. Lengua (tongue) is one of my husband's favorite Cuban dishes, which I refuse to make. Maybe he will take the ride out to Frederick to get a little tongue, cause Lord knows he ain't getting it at home. :o

As for Mayorga Cuban coffee, I buy it for my espresso machine, but it's not the real thing. To make Cuban coffee, you need Bustelo or Pilon brand, and a small Italian coffee pot like this. You pack the coffee in the filter as tight as you can, and brew it. For a coffee maker that brews 1 cup, you take about 1/3 cup of sugar and add three to four drops (literally) of the coffee to it. You beat it with a spoon until it becomes smooth and foamy, then you add the entire contents of the pot. You serve this in espresso cups, but only half full.

Stopped by TCP tonight for "research" (and a quick dinner) and confirmed that they use both Bustello and Pilon for their coffee. They even have bags of Bustello for sale, which they get from Miami. Not sure if they sell Pilon. They use an espresso maker instead of the pot linked above, but they grind the beans fresh. I also learned why that Cuban bread gets so crunchy after they use the sandwich press: butter. Ignorance is bliss.....guilt made me save that large second half of the sandwich for tomorrow.

Pax,

Brian

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That's a shame...Alfredo and I ran in similar circles in Miami. There has to be an abundance of space available in Frederick.

I met a friend for lunch today in Frederick and drove past the now-defunct TCP Cafe. They had written "R.I.P. TCP Cafe" with a drawing of a tombstone on the window, so it may not be resuscitated. I don't think I've been there since we moved to Bethesda back in 2007, but one of my final visits I remember the owner talking to a realtor who was scouting other locations for him b/c he said his real passion was in baking. I kind of bit my tongue b/c his pastries never looked that appealing to me (for which I felt the most guilt in my early raves that did not measure up to others' experiences in--I think--the Dining in Frederick thread: My Sin of Exclusion). What I did love about this place, though, were the huge and delicious servings of braised meat and beans and authentically friendly service. If Alfredo next follows his passion, he may not be playing to his strengths. So, if that scrawled message is true, then truely R.I.P. TCP Cafe.

pax,

Brian

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