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Back when this place was called Xiomorra, my sister and I used to go to the cheaper, more casual sister restaurant, Cafe Atlantic, located in the back room. We'd sit at the bar, have a cheap bottle of wine and split some empanadas and a salad.
Now called Mojito's, the owners, menu, atmosphere and dueling sisterhood (it's all one space now) had changed. I've avoided going to this place, mainly due to the name. Calling a Cuban restaurant "Mojito's" is about as classy as calling a Mexican restaurant "Margaritaville." Images of drunken college students and bad Latin music come to mind. But, after exhausting all other Pasadena possibilities last Saturday night, we settled on Mojito's.
According to the website, there is no corkage fee for the first two bottles of wine, so we happily brought one. The waiter told us that there is, in fact, a $10 corkage fee, but because the website hasn't been updated to reflect the change, he would honor the free corkage. So it was a good start to what turned out to be a lovely dining experience.
We were brought a generous serving of crispy, flattened, buttery Cuban bread with a side of black bean puree for dipping. It was delicious, and I think I could have been happy with just the bottle of wine and the bread. We split an order of the empanadas, which were light and crispy (think wonton skins vs. pastry) and very tasty with the side of avocado sauce and tomato salad it came with.
For entrees, my friend had the Pan Seared Organic Chicken Breast over Coconut Rice in a ancho chile jus. It was excellent: crispy on the outside, juicy and moist on the inside. I had the Churrasco Nicaraguense, which is a Nicaraguan skirt steak served medium rare with Porcini mushrooms, wild Mexican black corn and garlic mashed potatoes, which was divine! The meat was cooked medium rare (my request) and was incredibly tender and flavorful, and the Mexican black corn was earthy and slightly sweet. I really loved this dish.
I'm glad that we gave Mojito's a chance, because I can honestly say it will probably become a regular place for me after this great experience. The service was outstanding, the atmosphere warm and inviting, and the prices are very reasonable. Oh, and in case you are wondering about the Mojitos at Mojito's, my friend had one before dinner and gave it a thumbs up.
And no, I do not work for or know anyone who works for Mojito's. Don't be so cynical, people!
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