Other than the Cuban sandwich, I think it's safe to say the next most popular Cuban dish is Ropa Vieja. I decided to go with that and Deana chose Vieja Lechon Asado. We were both pleased with our meals and it quickly became quite obvious why Havana Road is talked about so often as a must visit restaurant.
The Ropa Vieja was right up my alley. Tender strands of beef were coated and topped in a savory tomato based sauce that ultimately reminded me of a Cuban version of goulash. Meat that is cooked slowly and transformed into magical tender bites of perfection always remind me of "home cooking" and this Ropa Vieja had me conjuring memories of a Cuban childhood I never had. On the side I was served a cup of deliciously creamy black beans that I mixed in with my rice and a couple perfectly fried plantains. The slightly sweet plantains were a nice counter balance to the savory Ropa Vieja.
Deana enjoyed her Vieja Lechon Asado, but not quite as much as we enjoyed the Ropa Vieja. There is just something about the sauce that is hard to top. However, the Vieja Lechon Asado was delicious in its own right. Anyone who enjoys good BBQ would like this dish as it reminded me a slowly cooked BBQ pork butt. The pork was juicy and tender with plenty of spicy bark pieces mixed in. It was topped with a nice helping of sauteed onions that added a nice sweetness to the dish.
For dessert we had Pineapple Rum Cake that was a great finish to an already exceptional dinner. The cake was thick, dense, moist and filled with flavor in every bite. Rum, caramel, pineapple, brown sugar......do I need to go on? This cake was one of the best desserts I've had in a restaurant setting and does a great job of once again making you feel like you're eating a meal from your own home.
Our visit to Havana Road ended up being a real eye opening experience. Considering my exposure to Cuban food was so limited, it was great to learn a little bit more about the food and flavors offered. Not only will I be back to Havana Road Cuban Cafe again, but in the mean time I plan on doing my best to recreate some of these dishes in my own home.
Recommendation: One of Baltimore's best.
What to Order: Ropa Vieja and Pineapple Rum Cake