Brunchology 101

Brunching around the world: Cuban

By on June 9, 2011

I LOVE Cuban food. Luckily, some of the best brunch places in NYC are Cuban! Cuban food is a fusion of African, Spanish and Caribbean cuisine, and the end result is a marriage of deliciousness.

Surprisingly, many people have not experienced a Cuban brunch, either because they haven’t had the chance or because they’re scared to try something new and different. Fear no more! I’m here to explain the dishes you’ll find on a typical Cuban brunch menu and more importantly, what exactly it is!

Yerba Buena's huevos rancheros

Huevos rancheros: Although you will also see this dish on the menu at a Mexican or even sometimes American brunch place, it is one of the most popular Cuban brunch meals. It is simply fried egg over a corn tortilla, usually topped with a salsa or tomatillo sauce, and accompanied by beans. A Cuban joint (like Yerba Buena) might add cilantro to the dish to add a Cuban touch.

Chorizo: A Spanish pork sausage that can be used many different ways in a Cuban brunch dish. Chorizo may accompany eggs or be served as an entree. Check out Poco’s egg benedict with chorizo or their chorizo hash!

Ropa Vieja: Shredded flank steak in a tomato-based sauce. You will find this offered on a sandwich or as an entree. If you have a slow cooker, try making this delicious dish at home!

Cafe Cortadito's Cuban sandwich

Cuban sandwich: The Cuban version of ham and cheese! It is made with ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard, and served on Cuban bread.

Vaca frita: Flank steak made with cumin, oregano, onion, cilantro and lime juice, and cooked til it’s nice and crispy! Vaca frita may be served with eggs (like at Agozar) or as an entree (I’m personally a big fan of Cafe Cortadito’s).

Empanadita: A smaller, more brunch-friendly version of the empanada! They are typically stuffed with meat and accompanied by a side of chimichurri (parsley and garlic) sauce.

Plantain: The “cooking” version of the banana. You will often see this offered as a side dish.


Yuca: Sometimes referred to as “cassava”, yuca is a root vegetable that you will usually see offered as a side and can be boiled, fried, or served as fries. If you ever find yourself in Hoboken, do yourself a favor and go to Zafra and try the yuca fries during your brunch with a side of their cilantro sauce. YUM!

Café con leche: Once you’re done drinking all that sangria, go for this beverage that translates to “coffee with milk”. It is sometimes made with espresso.

Now that you’re well-versed in the Cuban brunch, go try one of NYC’s finest! Calle Ocho, La Isla (worth the trip to Hoboken — their guava stuffed French toast was featured on Throwdown with Bobby Flay) and Cafe Habana all offer awesome brunches!

Written by: Jen (whose Spanish is limited to “hola amigo” and has not a trace of Cuban blood in her system, but greatly appreciates all that Cuban cuisine has to offer)

1 Comment
  1. Reply

    Debby Seme

    June 9, 2011

    Thanks so much, Jen, for all these descriptions! I want some Sangria right now!



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