Juana La Cubana is an Envigado restaurant inspired by the energy and passion of Cuban music, namely salsa.
Occupying a prime corner in the middle of Envigado’s growing restaurant zone, Juana La Cubana features plenty of space for al fresco dining, as well as a nicely decorated interior. Photos and flags from Cuba drape the walls, adding to the atmosphere.
I’d been wanting to visit for a few years, ever since seeing an advertisement for it in a Medellín restaurant guide, and recently suggested it to my friend Adam, who’s been living in Envigado and has just begun writing for my other blog, Go Backpacking.
We met one Friday afternoon for lunch, taking one of the seats outside to enjoy the weather.
Upon receiving the menu, I realized how little I know about Cuban food.
“Ropa vieja” translates literally as “old clothes,” and did not stir up appetizing images in my mind, yet it was listed frequently.
My experience with Cuban food can be summarized with visits to two famous restaurants, NYC’s Cafe Habana where I tried a Cuban sandwich for the first time, and Versailles in Miami. I enjoyed both as much for the atmosphere as for the food.
I decided to test the waters by ordering tostoncitos con ropa vieja (10,000 pesos, $5), which turned out to be patacones with shredded pork.
Surprise, I love ropa vieja!
Other appetizers include Cuban-style empanadas with a variety of different fillings, chicharron, yuca, shrimp and grilled octopus.
For my main course, I played it safe, ordering fish in a citric sauce, served with rice and beans, more patacones and salad (24,000 pesos, $12).
The dish was nicely presented, and the fish was tender and juicy. I could’ve done with something other than rice and beans and patacones, but when in Cuba…
Adam was more adventurous, opting for the ropa vieja (21,500 pesos, $11) before we knew exactly what it was.
The pork was served with healthy sides of white rice, beans and plantains.
Additional Cuban dishes include vaca frita (fried beef), crab enchilada, Cuban paella, steak, and robalo in shrimp sauce.
Or you can always opt for a classic Cuban sandwich with either beef, pork, or ropa vieja (19,500 pesos, $10).
The menu listed three dessert options, including a merengue with sour orange and chocolate, but I believe only one was available at the time.
I ordered a slice of the piña colada cake (9,900 pesos ($5), which was surprisingly good.
Juana La Cubana features live music Friday and Saturday evenings, and when I go back to hear it, I’m looking forward to trying one of their seven varieties of mojitos (14,900 pesos, $7.50), or a cuba libre.
They stock an impressive list of 18 rums, including several varieties of Ron Havana Club, Ron Medellín, Ron Zacapa, Ron Diplomatíco, and my new favorite, Nicaragua’s Flor de Caña.
The wine and beer lists are smaller, but still offers those who prefer something other than rum more than a few options.
Have you been to Juana La Cubana? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.