Buenos dias a todos y bienvenidos a un nuevo capitulo de Mastication Monologues! Alright, enough with the espanol for all you non-Spanish readers. I was just welcoming everyone to today’s chapter which features some Caribbean treats in Delray Beach, Florida. “Florida” is actually a Spanish name given to the peninsula by explorer Ponce de Leon. It means “Flowery land”, and the culinary landscape of the state is filled with beautiful blooms reflecting the ethnic seeds that were sewn throughout the history of the territory. From soul food eateries that are remnants of its history as a slave state to the many Cuban restaurants that are a more recent reflection of the politics in the region. Today’s entry involves Zucra which is a Latin establishment that is a bit hard to find but worth the trek.
They have ample parking which is nice in comparison to most restaurants in downtown Delray Beach. It’s a very cozy place with indoor and outdoor seating. They seemed surprised that we wanted to sit outside but indulged us nevertheless. The view isn’t much to boast about, but we did watch a guy drive a car with the emergency brake on the entire time. We told him about it as he passed by, and he said, “I don’t care. It’s only my friend’s car.” Some friend he was. Looking over the menu, we could see that they mainly specialized in Cuban cuisine that ranged from sandwiches to soups. My meal started off with a step into the unknown with a drink that my waiter couldn’t accurately describe aside from the name, Malta, and that it was good. Great. It came out with my parents’ waters, and it simply looked like a glass of Coca Cola. However, the bottle said otherwise as I tried to decipher what this “Hatuey” ($2.50) truly was. I could only describe the taste as a semi-flat soda that had hints of some type of cereal and caramel. Upon looking at the bottle closer and on Wikipedia, it turns out that it is a non-alcoholic drink that is essentially non-fermented beer. It originated in German as a “Malzbier” or “malt beer” but now is made throughout Latin America and even Africa. My mom didn’t care for it too much when she tried it, and I agree that it’s an acquired taste that I came to love by the end of the glass. As for the food, I got the lechon asado or grilled pork ($11.95); my mom got the ropa vieja ($10.95); and my dad got a bowl of the black bean soup ($4.95). Our meals came out, and they all looked muy sabrosos (tasty). My grilled pork was tender and succulent which I couldn’t say the same about a lot of other types of grilled pork meals I’ve had. On the side, I loved the grilled plantains that seemed to be roasted to a crisp, but in reality, they were simply black, soft slices of banana flavored fiesta. The arroz moros was the only weak point of my platter. While there were plenty of black beans cooked into the rice, it was on the dry side that didn’t help the blandness that permeated through every grain. It went down easier when mixed in with my roasted pork. I tried a bit of my mom’s ropa vieja, literally “old clothes” but really shredded beef, which was amazing from the small forkful I pilfered. Not only was it melt-in-your mouth good, but it had a spicy ole! that really took the dish to another level. I didn’t try my dad’s black bean soup since I was stuffed by the end of the meal, but he seemed to be greatly satiated.
So if you want a taste of Cuba without having to rumba on down to Miami or pay a brazo and a pierna at another nearby eatery Cabana, pay a visit to Zucra.