I was visiting South Florida as I often do and had the worst hankering for traditional, no-frills, yet tasty Cuban food. My dinner companions mentioned Padrino’s and I was game.
It had been close to two decades since I first stepped foot inside Padrino’s Ft. Lauderdale location, and since that time the proprietors have opened a handful of additional locations – that’s gotta be an indication that they are doing something right.
It was the weekend and the restaurant had live acoustical entertainment weaving Afro-Cuban beats among the chatter of a lively, animated crowd. We were shown to our table and immediately greeted with freshly sliced, warm and airy Cuban bread that was accompanied by a ramekin full of butter. Indulgence knows no bounds.
As is typical in many Cuban restaurants when you order a meal, the plates overflow with Caribbean deliciousness. This was true with all the entrees that we ordered. The bistec empanizado was a delicately breaded and fried Palomilla steak, sliced thinly. It was crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, seasoned well and flavorful. The accompanying sides included fluffy white rice and saucy black beans, a great combination. I also opted for the maduros which are lovely caramelized plantations that added just a touch of sweetness to an incredible entrée selection.
My companions ordered Ropa Veja, shredded beef bathed in tangy tomato sauce with hints of green pepper and onion and the Enchilado de Mariscos, a seafood assortment of bits of shrimp, scallops, fish served in a light tomato sauce, olive oil and white wine. I sampled the dishes and was pleased with their abundance of flavor. I made mental notes of what I would order on a return trip.
Dinner was complete after an order of Cuban coffee and a few spoonfuls of flan, a creamy, custard concoction dripping with caramelized sugar. We were delightfully satisfied with our meals and eager to return on our next visit to South Florida. I am counting the weeks until I can once again enjoy some home-style Cuban cooking that leaves everyone with a hand on their bellies and a sheepish grin that translates in any language to, “Muy Bueno”!