Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dancing All the Way to Mambo's Cafe

Mambo's Cafe
1701 Victory Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91201

I have been Cuban crazy lately! We have been on a personal quest to find a Cuban sandwich that was as good as the ones we had in Miami, at the Playa Cafe. I know this is a tall task, but it will be a delicious one to undertake. Luckily we were headed up to Burbank for a family party, and there just happened to be this Cuban restaurant, Mambo's Cafe.

Mambo's Cafe has been featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. We have had some good luck with places that have been on this show, and Guy Fieri has lead us astray in some instances as well. It was a good sign that as we got to the restaurant at 3pm on a Saturday it was packed in this tiny joint. This place might have been a gas station in another age?, but now it has a black and white checkered floor, with large celebrity pictures hanging on the wall. We were sat at a tiny table for two, ordered our food, and this is how it all came out.

We were started off with this bread basket. It is always a little refreshing when a restaurant tries to change things up from a normal bread basket. This was the case here. The bread was kind of like a french bread style, but the sauce was a kind of a cross between a spaghetti sauce and a salsa. There was no heat with this sauce, but a heavy tomato flavor. Very interesting start to the meal.

We might as well start with the reason we came here, the Media Noche Sandwich. This sandwich combined roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles. Both Katie and I thought this sandwich was delicious. This cousin to the Cuban Sandwich differs by having sweeter bread. The result is a well balanced sandwich that features the saltiness of the meats, the tanginess of the pickles and mustard, and the sweetness of the bread. This is probably the closest media noche sandwich to the one we had in Miami. Our only complaint about this sandwich would be that some of the bites of the pork were a little on the dry side, but those were far and few between. Very good sandwich.

We were going to be eating again in a couple hours, but I had to get what Guy Fieri ate here, the Roasted Pork. The pork here had a great flavor, but like the sandwich some of the bites were a little dry. I liked mixing the onions with the pork to boost the flavor up another notch. The star of this show was the black beans and rice. Some people enjoy these separated, but mixing them together really was the way to go here. I am usually not too big a fan of plantains, but the maduros here were not overly sweet and were cooked well.

We were sitting very close to the couple next to us, (this is a small place remember), so we struck up a conversation with Derek and Jenn. They were gracious enough to let me take pictures of their food. Jenn ordered the Mambo Combo Platter which included, Papas Rellenas, Spanish Chorizo, Empanadillas, Croquetas, and Tostones. She even shared one of her tostones with us, which is a fried plantain. Very good, and different from the way I have eaten plantains before. I will have to try these the next time I am at a Cuban restaurant. Jenn also had the Sangria above, which looked very refreshing.

Derek opted to get the Cuban Sandwich. This sandwich had all of the same ingredients as the Media Noche, but was put on Cuban bread. This sandwich looked good, and it must have been filling, because Derek had a hard time finishing it.

I really liked Mambo Cafe, but I can not say that I am in love with it. The food was pretty strong here, but lacked the wow factor. The Media Noche was the best thing we ate here. The prices were great for the amount of food you get. The sandwiches were all under $9, and the lunch entrees were hovering around the $10 mark. Very reasonable. The service was good during our visit here. The restaurant exudes a comfortable, friendly feel to it. If we were back in the area, we would definitely stop by for the Media Noche.

Out of five disco balls, (because the mambo is a famous dance style that originated in Cuba), five being best to zero being worst, Mambo's Cafe gets 3 disco balls.  

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