Cuban food in Cuba hasn't tasted this good since the '50s. Cuban food in many of Miami's spots hasn't tasted this good, ever. What's the secret? Flavor, flavor, flavor. Garlic, lime, lemon and vinegar are the major flavor messengers.
It's on the intimate side inside, with perhaps a grand total of 60-some seats. Choose your spot along the bar, in the dining room, or outdoors on cooler nights. The music is perfect for dancing (sorry, no dance floor) and the servers treat you as a long lost relative. What's not to love?
It's the former site of Fernandez the Bull's Southern location. Fernandez has kept their Immokalee Road location at 1201 Piper Blvd, Suite 10- you'll get delicious Cuban food there, too. No surprise-I'm told the chef at Rumba was the chef at Fernandez, and the former Fernandez staff bought this location, changed the name and kicked up the flavor a bit!
Pick a table and have a seat. Soon slices of piping-hot grilled Cuban bread arrive, crisp and butter soaked with pungent garlic.
Start with Cuban nachos ($11). A quartet of tostones-thin sliced fried green plantains- are piled with marinated chicken, beef or pork, and covered with Rumba cheese sauce.
This flavorful dish is an ample meal for most people. Recommended.
If it's lunchtime, order cafe Cubano, or a double Cubano for a sweet caffeine kick. There's also soft drinks like Materva, Jupina, Malta, Iron Beer, and beers and wine.
For dinner, the huge portion of lecho asado ($16) is enough for two people. This slow roasted marinated pork is grilled and basted in mojito sauce- a garlic and lemon tart treat.
All entrees come with a choice of two sides-my favorites are the crisp tostones, sweet plantains (plantanos maduros), and the best is the fried yuca- a potato-like tuber that's boiled then fried to a pillowy light texture.
Not a big eater? The thin palomilla steak ($13) is mojito-marinated, topped with grilled onions, and served with sides.
This is a bargain price. Palomilla steak is quite thin, so it's almost always served well done. Recommended.
My favorite treat is the shrimp al ajillo ($19).
These plump shrimp are sautéd in a white wine, butter and garlic based sauce, then topped with capers. Cooked to tender perfection, the shrimp are to be savored/devoured within minutes of serving. Highly recommended.
Neighboring tables recommended the ropa vieja, masitas de purco, churrascos (beef or chicken), medianoche sandwich, and croquetas de la casa.
Dessert? I've only tried the bunuelos so far.
This sweet petite delight is a figure-8 pastry that's hand rolled, fried, and topped with a special tropical sweet sauce. Add the scoop of vanilla ice cream for $1. It's worth it. Next time I'll save room for the guava cheesecake, flan, tres leches or the Rumba jump start with a shot of Cafe cubano!
For a wallet friendly family meal, friends or date night (it can get noisy) , Rumba delivers delicious food in a casual setting. You may just become a regular, too.
1265 Airport-Pulling Road South, Naples, 659-2996, www.rumbacubancafe.com.