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Restaurant Review - Mambo Restaurante Cubano

Everybody Mambo

This is certainly the city's most serious Cuban menu, ranging from peasant classics (perfect ropa vieja and masitas de puerco) to nightly Chino-Latino and seafood specials.

My favorite dish here is the pricey arroz negro — squid cooked in its ink and served over rice ($18.95). The ink gives the rice a velvety texture and I much prefer the dish over the restaurant's paella made with saffron rice for the same price.

I didn't order my favorite last week but I did start with ceviche negro, a fabulous blend of lime-marinated fish with flash-cooked squid, all dressed in squid ink and served in a cup of red lettuce ($8.95). Wayne chose fat grilled shrimp served "cocktail-style" with a goblet of chipotle-spiked sauce in which avocado was sunk ($7.95).

I decided, for purposes of comparison, to order a steak here too — the "firecracker steak," a grilled top sirloin stuffed with "fiery" peppers and served over black beans garnished with sweet plantains ($16.95). The dish is good, though its peppers are far from "fiery." Interestingly, Mambo is about to revise its menu and add, a la Coco Loco, a chimichurri-style steak.

Wayne chose his usual, a chicken breast grilled in a guava-lime glaze and served over greens, tomatoes and yuca ($10.95). Like the cooking with sofrito, the use of fruit marinades is common in authentic Cuban cooking.

Mambo gets extra points for being the most attractive Cuban restaurant in town. Featuring a Carmen Miranda-esque mural and bright colors, it's perhaps more South Beach than Havana, but we love it.