Cuba de Ayer is off Old Columbia Pike in Burtonsville, just west of Route 29. That’s technically northern Montgomery County, but close enough to the other counties to give it a go.
I had a bad experience at Cuba Libre a few years back. It was probably a fluke, but I was put off by the thought of Cuban food for a while. So when the ethnic dinner club at my job announced they were doing Cuban this month, I jumped at the opportunity to overwrite a bad experience with a good one.
We sampled most of the appetizers on the menu. Croquetas de Jamon, chicken and beef empanadas, fried Yuca, and pork chunks. While the croquettes were perfectly fried and filled with soft minced ham, I preferred the flaked-skin empanadas. The pork chunks were incredibly juicy and flavorful, served with fried onions. I’d want to check out the rellenas next time, since they looked excellent.
I had a shredded pork dish called Pernil which does not appear on the online menu,
although it had a single word name on the paper menu and it appears in their photographs. Marinated in bitter oranges, lemon, and garlic. It was served with salted plantains. The black beans are served on the side and are fantastic, made with pork and roasted veggies. I’d recommend it, but I can’t remember what it was called. It’s supposedly one of their more popular dishes.
I also got to sample the Ropa Vieja, which consists of shredded beef in a tomato based sauce with garlic, onions, red and green peppers. I didn’t taste the tomato base specifically, but it was shredded super fine and had a good seasoned flavor.
And where would we be without Tres Leche?
This is definitely a back-of-the-building operation, without a pretty storefront. It’d be easy to drive right by. Don’t let the shady surroundings fool you, there’s plenty of parking in the back. The interior is warm and cozy, the staff knowledgeable, and service quick. Prices are more than reasonable given the portion sizes. It gets quite busy on weekends by 7, so plan accordingly.
Definitely a good experience. It’s good to be back, eating Cuban again.