Like many Floridians, Cuban food has been a staple of my life for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, when I moved to Jacksonville, I lost the comfort of my local Cuban cafe. Ever since August, I've been searching for the coffee and sandwiches that I crave. I've laid awake at night, tossing and turning, with recurring thoughts of bittersweet, ridiculously strong coffee and decadent, savory pork.


Café Cubano, or colada holds a special place in my heart. It's made by adding copious amounts of sugar to the first drops of espresso during the brewing process, stirring vigorously, creating espuma (foam). Combining the brewed coffee with the sugary foam, creates heaven in a cup. I've never been able to perfect the process at home, but I'm still trying to perfect it enough to produce the electricity-straight-to-the-veins espresso I hold so dear. 

Mitchell Asselin

The Best Sandwich Created 

The perfect accompaniment to a super sweet coffee, is something mouthwateringly savory. The Cuban sandwich, a staple of cuban food, has been adopted by Floridian cuisine, similar to tikka masala being the national dish of the United Kingdom. Every restaurant in the state that sells sandwiches, and even large chains such as Publix now have to offer a Cuban sandwich, or some variation, to please the masses. Traditionally served on Cuban bread (crusty outside, fluffy center), with a healthy slathering of yellow mustard. On top of the mustar base, roast pork and glazed deli ham are layered with a few playful pickles, inside the pressed envelope of joy. There is also a cousin of this sandwich called a medianoche (middle of the night), which served on a softer sweeter bread. It is named for late night workers and partiers, who were looking for a snack on the way home.  

Mitchell Asselin

Nostalgic Bliss

It was a late dreary evening, when I stumbled into the lull of a dining room. I was greeted by the familiar sounds and smells of a Cuban cafe. The aroma of coffee was in the air, with the faintest hint of slow roasted pork coming from the kitchen. The rhythms and riffs of salsa and mambo, accompanied by the ever present clave, drifted across the room at a pleasant volume. After a long day of class, I found myself in Mambos Cuban Cafe

The restaurant was impeccably clean and well-run. The wait staff was attentive, courteous and helpful. I started my meal with a colada, with sugar of course. As I sipped my coffee and worked on some class work, I anxiously awaited the arrival of my medianoche, with a side of tostones (twice fried plantains). I decided on the medianoche, because I was craving a sweet and salty contrast and I may have been trying to fit into some sort of late night tradition. The food surpassed my expectations and brought me back to childhood trips to the small local Cuban cafés I was raised to love. 

I could not recommend Mambos Cuban Cafe enough. The food is outstandingly delicious. The atmosphere is wonderful to be in, and the service was fast, accurate and kind. Anyone who needs a reminder of childhood trips to a Cuban Cafe should stop by and melt into nostalgic bliss.