Here’s a quick tip for rounding up a party in a hurry: Just mention that you’ve found a great Cuban place and watch the haters come out in droves. “Nah, nothing like my mami’s food,” they’ll sniff. Or “Can’t touch Miami.” Don’t listen to them: The long-simmered black beans ring true, the twice-cooked vaca frita (beef that’s first braised, then shredded and fried) is lacy and crisp, and that garlicky lechon, the classic Cuban roast pork, is worth breaking a diet for—tender as a yearning ballad.
Where you can get it: 15446 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville; 301-476-9622
Also good: Picadillo, a hash of beef, olives, potatoes, and raisins; ham croquetas; tres leches cake.