Manolo's Cuban Café

"I have tried to create a little piece of Miami in Houston," says Sam Barro, owner of the re­cently opened Manolo's Cuban Café (6015 Hillcroft, 713-774-2822). "I came to Miami from Cuba in 1979, and that's where I was raised. In 2000, I moved to Houston from Miami, where I was used to the cafes, Cuban food and especially the Cuban sandwiches and coffee, and I wanted to mimic all of that here. I am proud to say that my Cuban sandwich is my baby — it's my masterpiece."

Why did he move to Houston? "I fell in love with the city, with the people and with a Texana," he says. The Texana isn't his only family here. "Mom's in the kitchen making everything from scratch, from the black beans to dishes like masitas de puerco and ropa vieja. We also have typical batidas (shakes) and pastelitos (fruit-filled pastries)." As for the name of the cafe, Sam says, "Manolo is my father and my grandfather's name, and I wanted to do them proud." The Press recently sampled the masitas (fried pork chunks) with rice and black beans, and they were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Good job, Sam... — Paul Galvani

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Paul Galvani