I was completely unprepared for how much I enjoyed Cubanos in Silver Spring. Though it was not perfect, one of the most enjoyable meals I've had in a very long time. As a former Miamian, I can tell you that it is not only much better than we should expect from Cuban food this far north, but Cubanos would be a treasure anywhere. I was also surprised that Cubanos is a NICE restaurant, with an elegantly dressed staff and handsome surroundings.
First, the disappointment: they don't seem to 'get' the savory aspect that is supposed to be present in certain dishes. The roast pork, which the menu declares being prepared with bitter orange, was woderfully tender and juicy, but no kick to be detected. Same for the picadillo which found its way into the empanada and the papa relleno. Where was the flavor from the green olives?
But I had several BESTs in this meal, thanks to an order of the bandeja (sampling platter.) This is sometimes a dubious choice as restaurants tend to unload old items on you, but this was freshly prepared and delicious.
Ham croquettes: I am a fiend for these, and they were a BEST for me, equal to or better than the old Cantinita. Small and tasty. Maximium ham flavor.
The pastry for the empanada is clearly the best I've ever had.
Yucca was a BEST, small pieces with a very creamy interior.
Tostones: these are green bananas, mashed into a disk and fried. Not sweet. I normally steeer clear of these, but way better than the hockey puck offerings everywhere else.
Chicharrones. Tasted both the pork and chicken. Chicken was nicely marinated before cooking. This was very tasty.
Black beans were seasoned with depth and understanding.
The platter was served with an excellent dipping sauce, but I also asked for a small cup of what the menu called an "addictive cilantro aioli." You MUST ask for this. If you love garlic.
I didn't sample any beef, but I see from the menu that I can satisfy that urge with both the ropa vieja and the vaca frita. I can't wait to go back.