Cheap Eats 2016: Cuba de Ayer

Photo by Scott Suchman.
Good Drinks Good for Groups Date-Night-Worthy on cheap eats for 10 yearsOn the List for 10 Years

The rice here is textbook, each grain distinct and slicked with oil; so are the beans, delivered in an inky simmered soup that sings of garlic and oregano. Devotees of Cuban cooking will know at once that we’re telling you about more than, yes, the rice and beans. If a Cuban kitchen understands the importance of these backbone elements of the cuisine, it can probably be trusted with everything else. And this one can. The cooking has the soulful heartiness you look for, from the crunchy croquetas with bits of ham to the rich hash of ground beef, potatoes, and olives known as picadillo to the diet-exploding tres leches cake, a confection of milk, cream, and meringue held lightly together with flour.

Also good: Vaca fritta, a heap of double-cooked (roasted, then fried) shredded beef; lechon, a tender, long-cooked roast pork; camarones al ajillo, shrimp in garlic sauce.

See what other restaurants made our 2016 Cheap Eats list. This article appears in our May 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.