It is a chain, but that is the worse I can say about this place. It has a good selection on Cubanesque food. I am not sure it is exactly authentic, but it is still delicious. I’ve been going to this place for a few years now, as it is one of the high end restaurants that opened in Downtown Crown in Gaithersburg, a cluster of great restaurants, bars, and homes stealing the Route 270 foodie traffic from trendy Downtown Bethesda, Maryland. I really just go for the happy hour, though. It has a REALLY great happy hour.
In addition to the menu, they offer three varieties of Guacamole, ranging from Spicy to your traditional avocado, lime, salt, tomato and onion, not served with corn chips, but instead finely shaved and fried root vegetables. I go for the Roasted Pork Testones which come three to an order, and are smashed fried yuca that platters semi-sweet mojo (a sauce of garlic, olive oil, salt, and peppers) braised pork, topped by vinaigretted pink tinged onions. Or try the Rio-Style chicken Tacos. All these go for $3.00 to $5.00 more on their full service menu. You can hang out at the bar area, if you can elbow your way into the bar, or on the patio. Get there before 5:00 PM, or you may not find a spot.
Rum and Drinks
They have a very full drink menu ranging from Mojito’s to a pretty solid Pisco Sour, a Peruvian classic combining Peru’s national spirit Pisco (distilled wine, not too different and Grappa) with egg white, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and Angostura bitters. It is better than it sounds. Go at happy hour and enjoy one of their Mojito’s, either traditional (muddled mint and sugar with lime and rum) or flavored versions such as Mango and Pomegranate. Yes, I know they are borderline girly drinks, but they are good! Warning, though, they won’t be using high grade rum to make these at $5.00 prices, as I spotted a bottle of Aristocrat rum, or a similar plastic bottled rum. You know, the plastic bottle bottom shelf rum, you’ll see for about $7.00 per liter, not bad for a mixer or to become a punch at the next party, but not sipping quality.
If you want good quality rum, go for the $5.00 off flights, which normally go for $14 – $19 a flight ($9-$14 at happy hour). I enjoy the Aged flight as it has three 12 year old favorites, including my favorite, a syrupy 12 year old Diplomatico Exclusivo, as well as the Flor de Caña Centenario 12,and the Zapata Grand Reserva, normally $16, now $11. Let me know if you discovered this happy hour, or if you end up going. It is a national chain, so you may find one nearby where you live.