It came as no surprise that the latest Cuban restaurant to hit my radar was situated in a strip mall on Buford Highway, known for being a thoroughfare packed with international cuisine. Located in Norcross, D’Cuban Cafe is a modest eatery with simple tables and big yellow Cafe Bustelo coffee cans used as functional décor. Old Cuban newspapers and artwork add extra flavor, while the smell of Cuban coffee and just-cooked pastelitos permeates the intimate restaurant.
But, the proof is in the pudding — or the flan, perhaps — and, for the most part, D’Cuban delivers on its promise of authentic Cuban fare. (It’s not Versailles in Miami, but I’ve yet to find anything like that in the ATL.)
The affordable menu offers a bevy of options: starters, sandwiches, entrees, sides, desserts, milkshakes, natural juices, Cuban and Latin American sodas, and various weekday specials.
For a lunch visit, kick things off with the Cuban Sampler, which includes ham croquettes, papa rellena, chicken empanadas, yucca frita, plantains and tostones. Dip it all in one of two sauces the server brings to your table (a red, fiery option and a green, garlicky cream sauce that’s easily addictive). The yucca frita is among the most authentic I’ve seen in Atlanta, with a light crispy texture, perfect for dipping in the green sauce.
A great lunch option is one of the varied selection of popular Cuban sandwiches, including, among others, pan con bistec, ropa vieja, media noche and, of course, the traditional Cuban — all made on pressed and toasted Cuban bread. If you don’t eat pork, try the turkey Cuban, or the tasty milanesa sandwich, made with lightly breaded chicken, melted Swiss, lettuce and tomato. If you opt for the combo, add some rice and black beans (which have balanced seasoning, for an authentic flavor) to make it a complete Cuban meal.
Tip: The portions are hearty, so you’ll probably have plenty of leftovers.
Finish your meal off with a cortadito (a sweet espresso shot with steamed milk) and a guava cheese pastelito (think warm pastry dough stuffed with a fruity paste and cheese) for dessert.
All in all, this hidden gem will do the job when you’re craving Cuban eats. It’s decently authentic, worth the drive, and definitely nap-inducing.
D’Cuban Cafe. Two locations: 6200 Buford Highway, Norcross. 770-447-0877; 197 N. Norcross Tucker Road, Norcross. 678-404-7794. dcubancafe.com.