By: Jason Perlow
Coral Springs residents: You don’t need to drive an hour to Calle Ocho to get your sofrito on anymore. Mima’s 1868 Cuban Cafe, a tiny family-owned 18-seat luncheonette in a sleepy strip mall has all the classic dishes you want, from the Cuban sandwiches to the Ropa Vieja and the Lechon.
On the first visit, I had the Picadillo (ground meat with potatoes in sofrito tomato sauce). It was excellent, with extremely flavorful yellow rice and bold achiote sazon seasoning.
Tostones were cooked on point and came with garlic mojo for dipping. These are a must order. We also asked for some of the restaurant’s own home-made green habanero hot sauce, which is sure to spice up anything you get here if it’s not piquant enough.
The ubiquitous croquetas, while sourced frozen from the same place everyone buys from in Miami, are freshly fried to order (6 pieces) which makes all the difference in the world.
On the other hand, I would skip the Stuffed Tostones (mariquitas) with shrimp, which are meant to be the Cuban equivalent of nachos and have melted cheese on them. The shrimp was tiny and still had their tails on. Perhaps I’d get it with ground beef or pork instead.
The Ropa Vieja (shredded braised beef in tomato sofrito sauce), which is my wife’s favorite is incredibly tender, and heavily seasoned with the sofrito. This is exactly what you want out of a ropa vieja.
The restaurant clearly excels at their sofrito-oriented preparations, and I would gravitate towards things that are pre-prepared and simmer for a long time like their Lechon (amazing, falling apart, tender, garlicky and juicy with the mojo marinade with lots of onions).
My wife was also quite partial to the Pollo à la Plancha (chicken steak) which was nice and juicy and not at all dried out, which is what you find at a lot of Cuban places.
Of particular note, and rather atypical of a Cuban place, the restaurant uses fresh vegetables and cooks them perfectly to order. They even have a beautifully presented Vegan Bowl that features a fried tostada shell, avocado, yuca, plantains, pico de gallo and rice and beans.
Be aware that their rather brisk lunch business tends to deplete things, so sometimes they run out of the yellow rice or the moros (rice cooked with black beans). Service can also be a tad slow during the main lunch rush and the servers taking orders are also operating the espresso machine, and food doesn’t necessarily come out in the order you want.
But I can forgive a tiny family-owned place for minor issues like this when the food is this good.
On a second visit, I went for breakfast, late Sunday morning. I had the Bistec al Caballo, ordered medium rare. The server asked me how I wanted it cooked. It’s a very thin cut minute-type steak (palomilla) so it came out well done and I can’t really blame them for the result. But be aware of this if you order it, it will be “bien hecho”. The seasoning on it was very nice though. I have been told if you don’t want the steak well done, don’t get a palomilla, get a churrasco, which is a different cut.
The potatoes (home fries) and eggs (ordered over easy, came out nice and runny) were both very good so I definitely would get their other breakfast stuff.
Their breakfast sandwiches, which are served on either Cuban pan de agua or eggy medianoche bread, are generous enough to fill up even the hungriest of macho men.
While I haven’t sampled one yet I saw the Cuban sandwiches coming out and they looked excellent. What I did have on a third visit was the Frita Cubana which I ordered with cheese, runny egg and yuca fries. This may be the best “burger” in Coral Springs, although it is pork and chorizo based.
You absolutely must try this. Especially if you don’t know what you want and are crazy hungry. Perhaps even hung over. Be advised that if you do order this it is structurally unstable and cannot support its own weight — once you take the toothpick out you’re on your own.
Get extra napkins. Possibly share the thing. Cut it in half. You’ve been warned, it’s a monster.
For dessert, I had the flan which is ultra creamy and rich. At least as good as my wife’s. Not quite a tocinillo del cielo like Versailles in Miami has but still excellent. I scarfed it all. You will as well.
Espresso coffee is pulled on a Rancilio Epoca from Italy. It makes a solid cortadito and café con leche, using beans sourced from a local roaster in Pompano Beach, not the usual Bustelo or Pilon (which isn’t even made in Miami anymore, it now comes from New Orleans). If you don’t want sugar in it say so ahead of time, because the default setting for Cubans is crazy sweet.
What else could you possibly want from a Cuban place? Ok, they don’t have a liquor license — they are applying for beer and wine — so no mojitos. But other than that a very good place to get the Cuban dishes you crave.
MIMA’s 1868 CUBAN CAFE
Located at 3175, 6261 W Sample Rd, Coral Springs, FL 33067. 954-227-2525
Monday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tuesday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Wednesday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday 8 a.m.– 9 p.m.
Friday 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturday 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Jason Perlow is a long-time foodie who spent 20 years in the New York City and New Jersey metro areas reviewing restaurants for The New York Times and his personal food blog, Off The Broiler, which he started in 2006 and ran for ten years. He is also the founder of eGullet, a popular food discussion site and not-for-profit organization that was formed in 2001, which was featured on Tony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” cable television program.
As a technologist by profession, he writes the Tech Broiler blog for CBS’s ZDNet web site. He has been a Coral Springs resident since moving to South Florida in 2012.