Even a weeknight can feel like a party at this bustling, tropical-hued restaurant in Columbia Heights. Couples pack two-tops in front while groups take over the back, boisterously conversing over mojitos. Cuban classics emerge from the kitchen, comforting and without a hint of heaviness—a danger in less skilled hands. There’s a toothsome ropa vieja (pulled beef stewed with tomatoes), one of the city’s best Cuban sandwiches, and juicy, crisp-skinned chicken served with a bright orange-garlic mojo sauce. All entrées arrive with buttery white rice and beans plus a side—the caramelized plantains are worth a trip in themselves.
Also good: Empanadas with ham and four cheeses; picadillo (ground beef cooked with tomato sauce and olives); frijoles colorados (red beans with sausage); flan.