Cuba de Ayer
15446 Old Columbia Pike
Burtonsville, MD 20866
Cuisines: South American, Cuban
Tuesday through Thursday 11:30 AM to 8:30 PM, Friday and Saturday 11:30 AM to 10 PM, and Sunday 11:30 AM to 8:30 PM.
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Price Range: Inexpensive
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Not Needed
Ham croquettes; beef empanadas; vaca frita; ropa vieja; masitas; picadillo; Cubano sandwich; plantains; black beans and rice; tres leches cake.
Appetizers $2 to $7, entrées $8 to $15.
Special Features: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly, Good for Groups
Why go: It’s not Cuba—it’s not even Miami. But the cooking at this colorful hole in the wall is authentic, pulsing with the garlicky, slow-cooked flavors of Havana.
What to get: Ham croquettes, the outsides crunchy, the insides rich and creamy; vaca frita, a mound of beef made lacy, almost light, by double frying (give it a spritz of lemon); a comforting picadillo, beef hash garnished with bits of potato, olive, and onion; the best black beans and rice around; sticky-sweet plantains; a version of tres leches that, in spite of its almost custardlike consistency, still eats like a piece of cake.
Best for: Celebrating on the cheap, courtesy of the family-style plating and the short roster of cocktails and beers.
Insider tip: Forgo the moros y cristianos—black beans mixed with rice, a common side dish; they’re better ordered individually so you can appreciate the savor of the inky beans and the fluffiness of the oiled rice.
Open daily except Monday for lunch and dinner.
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