The newest installment of the Taco Traveler comes from Robert, aka Mr. Taco Traveler, while he is on the road in Florida.
This installment of the Taco Traveler is a journey away from the beloved Tex Mex cuisine into the parallel culture and food universe of Caribbean fare. Tonight I visited The Black Bean Restaurant in Hollywood Florida, on State Highway 7 just a few miles south of the Fort Lauderdale Airport.
Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale, Florida is an area frequented by tourists and known for fancy dining and extravagant cuisine. While visiting on vacation or for business, most folks head over to Las Olas for a fancy meal or A1A for beach side dining. There are many restaurant options and cuisines represented in either of these locations, but often at a high cost. When I travel, I like to stay away from areas frequented by tourists and find unique culinary experiences savored by the locals. Tonight’s meal was just that – a local experience of delicious and authentic Cuban food.
Cuban cuisine exists at the crossroads of Spanish colonization, African slave heritage, and Caribbean flavors. It is also heavily influenced by the politics of the Cuban Revolution and the subsequent break in relations with the United States. The result is a delicious meld of rice and beans, indigenous fruits like plantains and mangoes, and slow cooked pork or beef. Cumin, peppers, onion, and bay flavors are strong. Preparations are simple and focus on making the most of the available ingredients.
The Black Bean Restaurant delivered deliciously tonight on a very traditional Cuban meal – Ropa Vieja. This savory dish of slow cooked shredded flank steak in a rich tomato and pepper sauce served with a side of white rice and traditional black beans. The meal blended the very best elements of Cuban cooking producing a delicious meal that was very rich in flavor. The black beans deserve a special mention as an extremely flavorful part of the meal. In each bite you could taste the cumin and the bay in a creamy texture. Mixed with the rice, the black beans were heavenly.
The Black Bean is not pretentious, it’s just good local Cuban cuisine. There are no white linen table cloths and the wait staff are genuine and friendly. The decor is functional, if a bit dated, but this outing was about the food, not the trappings of the restaurant. Eight American and Caribbean beers are available in bottles to accompany your meal. Meals are very affordable at The Black Bean from $8-$20 per person. When business or pleasure brings you to South Florida, I recommend you give The Black Bean a try. You will enjoy the experience, the culture, and the food of Cuba!
A very delicious three tacos out of five.