Friday, April 1, 2011

Searching for a Great Cuban Meal

Felix Continental Cafe
36 Plaza Square
Orange, CA 92866

Both Katie and I have been craving Cuban food ever since we got back from Miami in November. Our Cuban experience was so good there, we wanted to find the best Cuban food in the OC. So we start our quest at Felix Continental Cafe in the Orange Circle.

Felix has been around since the late seventies. In those thirty plus years, I have always heard great things about this place. Every time I have been to the circle, there is always a wait to eat here. Every time I mention restaurants in the circle, someone always tells me to try Felix's. Reviews from the newspapers and blogs are all glowing, so I was very excited to give Felix a try.

We arrived at seven on a Saturday night, and true to form there was a forty-five minute wait to be seated inside, or a five minute wait to be seated outside under the heat lamps. We chose the latter, because I was real hungry, and I can brave the chilly 60 degree weather. After a little delay, the waiter came over and this is what came out for us.

I always enjoy showing you the bread basket, and here is the one for this night. The bread was average and a little squashed, but they definitely gave the three of us more than enough. Maybe they saw in my eyes that I was very hungry.

The only appetizer we ordered was the Empanadita Criolla. This was filled with spiced ground beef, and tasted great. Katie asked for some salsa with this, and it was nice and spicy. Very good accompaniment to the empanadita.

All of the entrees came with either soup or salad. Katie and Clay each got the salad. They felt it was nothing special. I went with the Garbanzo Soup. This was a pleasant tasting mellow soup. There were no shortage of garbanzos in this soup either. I was a little surprised to find a bay leaf in the soup, but no big deal.

We will start the entree portion of the night with Clay's choice, the Carne Con Papas. Tips of boneless beef and potatoes cooked in a Cuban beef  sauce. This stew-like meal was called average by Clay, who also said some of the beef pieces were not very tender.

Felix is known as the House of Paella, so that is what Katie wanted to try. The Paella Velenciana is a Spanish holiday dish that presents many different items in the same bowl. Included in this paella was saffron rice, shellfish, calamari, chicken, pork, fish, and Spanish chorizo. Katie felt this was a solid dish and that the meats were just okay. She could not finish this, so I took it for lunch the next day. I really enjoyed this. Kind of like a jambalaya, I really liked the flavor of this. My only complaint would be about the shellfish. It was served in a shell of course, but there was nothing to crack it open with. The dish was good without the crab meat, but would have been made better with it.

The menu at Felix kind of intimidated me. There were so many options that I could not decide on a dish, so I took a chance with the Boliche Mechado. Eye of round steak stuffed with chorizo sausage and cooked in its own juices. The chorizo was invisible. The meat itself was tough, and not flavored well. The rice was okay. Not the best choice I could have made here. I should have gone with a pork or chicken dish.

Maybe a Cuban Sandwich could make me forget my entree. A Cuban sandwich is composed of leg of pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard all on a Cuban baguette. This Cuban sandwich was not even close to the great one we had in Miami. The pork was kind of dry, and the cheese was a little off. Could have been a texture issue with the cheese. The mustard was not very prominent, and the pickles were sparsely spread through the sandwich. Not a good sandwich.

What almost made up for my entree was the desserts at Felix. With your entree you are also given your choice of dessert. I had the Vanilla Pudding which was good and creamy, and sprinkled with cinnamon. The real choice for dessert is the Tres Leches Cake. This moist cake was fantastic. Kind of had a moist Twinkie taste, but even better. The real whipping cream on top of this was the proverbial cherry on top. I can not recommend this dessert more.

Okay, so I guess after reading this you know how I am going to rate Felix. There were some bright spots, the paella, empanadita, and the desserts. There were also some very low parts, the beef entrees and the Cuban sandwich. This seems like a restaurant we will have to come back to explore their menu more. I will stay away from the beef items here and focus on pork and chicken items.  The service on our visit was fine, and I felt that the prices seemed fair.

Out of five cigars, (no explanation needed right?), five being best to zero being worst, Felix Continental Cafe gets 2.5 cigars.

For more information on Felix Continental Cafe click here:

Felix Continental Cafe on Urbanspoon


  1. Haven't been to Felix's enough to comment on them, but if you are ever driving up the 405 by Culver City, there's a nice little mom & pop place on Sepulveda (near Culver) called "El Rincon Criollo" (!__2). It is very small, unlike nearby "Versailles", but a very nice friendly place for an unassuming but tasty Cuban lunch.

  2. Anonymous - Thanks for the tip. I have been to LA a lot more recently, and will put this on my list. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I went to Felix's w Mr grandma for Lunch not to long ago....the food was great!..pallela was so good...I loved the saffron rice!

  4. Sammy - I think I might have just got the wrong thing for dinner. I will definitely go again, but stick with a pork dinner. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Came across your website by accident and saw the pictures of the foods you took. At first I thought it was pictures of homemade food, but upon reading the piece, I realized it was a food critic article. This is a restaurant and THIS is the food they served? The plating is awful, if not, outright disgusting. Food is as much visual as it is flavor. The plates you photographed were disgustingly dirty and not garnished or cleaned off. If it were me, I would not recommend this place to anyone. Sorry, but food is my passion and this hurts to even look at. Will check out the rest of your website...... Spanish Gordon Ramsay.

  6. Spanish - Glad you made it to my blog, even if it were by accident. I agree with you about the plating here. I guess I should have written about that, but I had more of an issue with the food here. The beef was not tender at all, and the sandwich was one of the worst I have had. I wrote this article eight months ago, and have not been back. Hope you find more food on my blog to your liking. Thanks for the comment.

  7. there is absolutely nothing wrong with the food at felix! I love the fried pork and the green salsa they have is delish!!! I always ask for extra salsa to bring home. You might have ordered the wrong thing but you should def try the fried pork. then again, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but as far as my opinion goes, felix is a great place with delicious food and great service.i usually go for lunch though so i never really wait that long and everyone is super frinedly

  8. Anonymous - Like I said i the article, I should have gone with a pork dish. Thanks for the suggestion of the fried pork. We will make it into Felix's again soon. Thanks for your comment.