My old friends Jeff and JT are going to be in town visiting soon. They are wondering where the best cafeteria-style Cuban food can be found.
I have three suggestions:
SPAIN -- 207 Twiggs Street in downtown. This restaurant is an old stand-by that closed for about two years and only recently re-opened with cafeteria Cuban for lunch only, and tapas for dinner. They used to have some of the best Cuban in Tampa -- I've been back to try the tapas (which was mostly very good) but have not been back for lunch. Has anybody else?
LA FONDA -- located oddly on MacDill at Knights (btwn El Prado and Gandy) this restaurant is owned by non-Cubans. I think they're from Central America, I can't remember -- but their entres are excellent. On Fridays they make paella.
EL FOGON: Located on Dale Mabry just south of Bay to Bay, they are dependable and open long hours.
TONY's -- 2001 N. 22nd in Ybor -- a little Cuban, a little Southern -- prices are not as low as elsewhere.
Increasingly I find these places serving beans in broth instead of bean soup. The picadillo lacks punch and seems more like ground beef. And the menu is always the same boring fare, never any specials. And though it is comforting that things remain the same (which is why my friends want to keep that cafeteria line going), I wonder if there's something different out there that I just don't know about.
Any other chowhounders have suggestions?