Cheap Eats 2009: Cuba de Ayer

Great food, low prices, lots of fun

Why go: The area’s best Cuban cooking. Granted, Washington isn’t Miami. But this oxblood-colored dining room with framed prints of old Havana gets a lot of the details right, from the almost-creamy black beans to the oiled rice to the sour-orange bite of the cubed pork dish masitas.

What to get: Ham croquettes; vaca fritta, crispy shreds of pan-fried beef (give it a shower of lemon juice); black beans and rice; the beef-and-potato hash known as picadillo; home-style chicken soup; tres leches cake.

Best for: A festive night with friends.

Insider tip: Cocktails often lack adequate alcohol; opt for a cold beer instead.

Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner.

>> See all 2009 Cheap Eats restaurants here 

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