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Plantain Cafe Opens Today on Gay Street

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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The Plantain Cafe is the latest business to set up shop along the blossoming stretch of Gay Street Downtown as they open their doors for lunch service today.

The new restaurant is located at 77 East Gay Street, and will offer traditional Cuban fare in the form of sandwiches, entrees, and sides.

Don Steere is opening the Plantain Cafe with his wife Anna, after years of enjoying her family’s home-cooked Cuban meals. “We’ve spent a lot of time with Anna’s family in Miami and wanted to replicate that experience here,” said Don. “Her grandparents always cooked for us and it was the most fantastic food.”

The restaurant will only be open for lunch hours to start, running from 11am to 2:30pm, Monday through Saturday.

Standout items on the menu include the Frita (Cuban Hamburger) made with beef and chorizo ($6), Cubano (Cuban Sandwich) prepared classically with pork, ham, swiss, pickles and mustard ($8), Mariquitas (Plantain Chips) served as a side with a garlic lime sauce ($4), and Pastelitos, a dessert pastry filled with guava and cream cheese ($3.50). Most sandwiches are in the $7 to $9 price range, entrees are the $9 to $11 range, and desserts and sides in the $3 to $4.25 range.

“Gay street has become a great destination spot,” added Don. “It’s filed with lots of business traffic and cool restaurants, and we want to be a part of that.”

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29 Responses to Plantain Cafe Opens Today on Gay Street

  1. d2thawhitey
    d2thawhitey December 1, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am

    Looking forward to trying this out! My wife and I are huge fans of El Arepazo in Pearl Alley, and that has led us to patronizing the Gay Street area. Best of luck to Plantain Cafe!

  2. Elizabeth Lessner
    lizless December 1, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am

    It looks really nice in there, very cheery. I can’t wait to try them out.

  3. DCist December 1, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am

    Im excited! I am Cuban and from FL and I dearly miss Cuban food! I hope they have Yucca on the menu!

  4. Anne Evans
    Anne December 1, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am

    I like the Saturday hours. :)

  5. joev
    joev December 1, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am

    OMG – I am in trouble! This is great news!

  6. zp945
    zp945 December 1, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am

    This looks great.  The space fits the concept perfectly.  I’ll be down to try a cuban sandwich very soon.  Good luck to them.

  7. Jimbo Jones
    Jimbo Jones December 1, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am

    I’m excited to try this place soon, especially because it’s right across the street from my office.  I’d like to try it for lunch today, but I’m worried I may not have time to fight the crowd.

  8. JonMyers December 1, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm

    The race to claim it on FourSquare is on.

  9. Jimbo Jones
    Jimbo Jones December 1, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm

    I went for lunch today.  I had the shredded pork sandwich.  Very solid.  I will definitely be back.

  10. TimLessner December 1, 2009 4:11 pm at 4:11 pm

    I had the black bean soup and plantain chips for lunch today and it was VERY yummy. I too will definitely be going back! Probably tomorrow actually….lol

  11. JonMyers December 1, 2009 5:44 pm at 5:44 pm

    I like the space. Good photography on the walls.

    I had the the arroz con pollo and tostones. Delicious. I’m sure I’ll be back very soon.

  12. JGumbos
    JGumbos December 1, 2009 6:23 pm at 6:23 pm

    Don and Anna, welcome to the neighborhood.  It has been great getting to know you as you were preparing to open.  We’re all glad to have another establishment join the Gay Street growth!  Best of luck.

  13. todd_santoro
    todd_santoro December 1, 2009 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm

    Finally a place that serves a true Cuban pressed sandwich.  Ham and pork people!!!

  14. ejolsz
    ejolsz December 2, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am

    Had the cubano sandwich yesterday, thought it was very good and is indeed a true cuban sandwich (pork & ham), wasn’t the best cuban I’ve had (but I have had some good ones in miami among other places) but was still very happy and will be back for sure.  I liked all the various plaintain options (3 kinds of fried plaintains, chips, green and sweet).  I did find myself wishing for something (say el arepazos cilantro sauce to dip them in however unfortunately…).  Still thrilled to have another place on gay st.

  15. cuban_smarti December 4, 2009 4:36 pm at 4:36 pm

    Just a comment… In Cuba, we do not dip plantains in any sauces. They are a side dish used like a potato. You can fry it green (tostone), sweet (maduros), thin sliced (chicarita) or mashed (fufu). It is a hallmark of a Cuban chef to get all the cosistencies “just so”… I am hungry just writing about it.

  16. diamonddave December 4, 2009 7:26 pm at 7:26 pm

    Stopped in to the Plantain Cafe Thursday for lunch. I had the Cubano sandwich and loved it. Quick service, friendly staff, great food. Looking forward to next visit to try the Cuban-style hamburger!

  17. futureman December 7, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am

    Very tasty! I stopped by on Saturday for take out. Had the Cuban sandwich really enjoyed it. Only problem for me is that I don’t work downtown, so the only time I can stop by is Saturday. Which brings up another things, PLEASE KEEP YOUR SATURDAY HOURS!!!

  18. mbeaumont December 9, 2009 1:58 pm at 1:58 pm

    Stopped in for the first time today. Absolutely delicious. Had the Cubano and fried plantains. Excellent all around. Very nice and welcoming inside and the staff were great. Wonderful addition to Gay St. Wish them all the best.

  19. jennyleah31 December 15, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am

    does anyone have a website or menu?
    i need some cuban roast pulled pork with chimichurri asap so they i’m holding my breath that they have it!

  20. joev
    joev December 19, 2009 2:49 pm at 2:49 pm

    This places gets my seal of approval and undying devotion. As far as I know, it’s the only place that serves a REAL cubano in the city. And it’s so very tasty!

  21. Andrew Hall
    Andrew Hall December 22, 2009 8:14 am at 8:14 am

    @jennyleah31  – They have a menu image on the Facebook page. Can’t link from here, but search on Fb even if your are not a member. They will have a site soon and are also glad to fax the menu to you. No chimichurri on the roast pork, but that isn’t really Cuban either.

    We got take away for the office yesterday and a universal hit. Cubano is delish as is the ropa veija and the roast pork sandwhich. Sides were very good as well.  I can’t say anything negative about PC and it will be added to our regular lunch rotation.

    A.

  22. coolbuckeye December 23, 2009 3:34 pm at 3:34 pm

    The food was a hit with my coworkers and I.  We loved the size of the space as well.  Everything was just perfect.  Congrats and welcome to the neighborhood!

  23. Walker Evans
    Walker January 25, 2010 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm

    Finally got around to trying this place out today for lunch. I had the Cubano, which comes with a side of plantain chips. Perfection! Big sandwich for $8, and really tasty. The Plantain Chips are really thinly sliced, fried to a nice crisp and drizzled with what tasted alike a lemon/garlic oil. I added a little more salt, but they were otherwise really impressive. Will definitely be back soon to try other menu options!

    Two things that could improve this place over the next few months:

    - Small patio out front (not a whole lot of room, but they could probably put two sidewalk tables out there).

    - Liquor License & Later Hours (I washed my food down with a Diet Coke, but a Cuba Libre would have been better!)

  24. lifeliberty
    lifeliberty February 3, 2010 1:18 pm at 1:18 pm

    Pan Con Bistec(Steak Sandwich) is excellent.  Ropa Vieja Sandwich(Shredded Beef Sandwich) is excellent.  Arroz y Frijoles are excellent(and I don’t really like beans all that much)

    dipping sauce goes great with the Plantains and the sandwiches, I need to start ordering 2 cups of it.

    they also now have daily specials that started this week, he said he was going to see how they go.  i didn’t know that when I phoned in my order, but next time I’ll have to aks what the special is.  Todays special sounded fantastic.

    I LOVE that the phone is answered when I call. i can’t stand, (and don’t really understand) when places of business do not answer their phone or even have a msg recording explaining why they are not answering the phone at this time.

    Service has always been awesome and friendly (I have always gotten takeout though)

    Today the place was packed and it appeared there was only 1 waitress who seemed overtaxed, just be aware of that if eating in during the lunch rush. last time I was there there were 2 waitresses, so maybe it was just today, i don’t know.

    here’s the phone number for ordering or questions 464 & 2822

  25. Plantaincafe
    Plantaincafe February 4, 2010 7:26 pm at 7:26 pm

    Thank you everyone for all the kind words. Both Anna & I are having a great time and are very grateful for all the positive feedback we have received.

    Jennyleah31 – Our website is online now and you can download our menu there: http://www.plantaincafe.com

    Walker – you have some great ideas. We already have our sidewalk dining lease approved and will be adding patio seating in the spring.

    Lifeliberty – our normal staffing is 2 servers which has been working well, but one had an emergency and missed work on Wednesday. We apologize and are working on a solution so that doesn’t happen again. We understand that most of our customers have limited time for lunch and pride ourselves on our fast and friendly service.

    Remember you can phone in orders if you are in a rush and we’ll have it ready for pick up: 464-CUBA

    Thanks again! We hope to see you soon for lunch!
    Don & Anna

  26. dru
    dru February 19, 2010 3:38 pm at 3:38 pm

    Finally made it by here.  I had the Arroz con Pollo.  As plated, the serving initially looked a little small.  But instead of shredded chicken it was dense chunks of white meat mixed in with the rice and saffron (and my own liberal use of the Goya hot sauce).   So it ended up being a filling lunch portion.  A great addition to the strip on Gay St.

  27. honavery March 22, 2010 2:34 pm at 2:34 pm

    Finally checked this out, after months of planning to do so.  Very glad I did, I had the pork sandwich, it was delicious.  The waitress was super nice, and the space in general was very welcoming.  Def. will be back.

    FYI, they had a sign out front that they will have expanded Saturday hours in the Spring!  Open till 8pm!

  28. Walker Evans
    Walker March 22, 2010 2:52 pm at 2:52 pm

    Awe-Some! :D

  29. lifeliberty
    lifeliberty March 22, 2010 3:33 pm at 3:33 pm

    that would be great, I think B will really like this place.

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