Monday, May 10, 2010
After a full meal of breakfast and the beginning of lunch at Cafe Versailles, I headed out to my "second lunch" destination. Ms. Lin had done a bunch of research of what to do while I was on Calle Ocho and of course the list was mainly composed of food destinations. Even though I was really stuffed, I forced myself to walk over to La Carreta. It is actually really really close by and I read somewhere that it is the same owner as Cafe Versailles. The main difference is that La Carreta is more like Cuban home cooking than Cafe Versailles. They also have an outside area for coffee drinkers. Inside there is also a diner style bar for customers to sit and eat. The servers here don't speak a lot of English but they are super friendly. I can see why they say it is more like Cuban home cooking because you get the cozy and warm feeling of being in a local place close to home.
The nice lady brought me out some hot buttered bread that simple goodness. Too bad I was way too stuffed to eat the basket. If this had been the first meal of the day, I'd be all over that bread. Who doesn't love hot bread and butter? O=)
While browsing the menu I found an intriguing item. They had a few choices in flavors for the batidos. I saw they had a flavor called, "Mamey". This definitely caught my eye and I tried to ask them what kind of flavor is mamey. All I got in response was that this is a fruit... I did the smart thing that anyone would do. I pulled out my phone and looked it up! "They are grown in Mexico, the Caribbeans, and South Florida. The fruit's flavor is variously described as a combination of pumpkin, sweet potato, and maraschino cherries with the texture of an avocado. Some consider the fruit to be an aphrodisiac. The brown skin has a texture somewhere between sandpaper and the fuzz on a peach." Another name for Mamey is Sapote, this new knowledge actually came in handy later in the day. To me it tasted like a mixture of fruits too. The texture was reminiscent of avocado mixed with the grittiness of a guava. This was a very thick and rich drink. It was very sweet and I had a lot of fun trying to decipher what this fruit reminds me of.
There was just too many things to choose from on the menu. They all looked so good! I asked the server what she recommended and she pointed out a few items. The Criollo caught my eye because it was a huge sampler for a good price. I get to try a bunch of new things and get to kill two birds with one stone. The Criollo included Fried Pork Chunks, Shredded Beef in Creole Sauce, Tamale, Ham Croquette, Sweet Plantains, Yucca, Yellow Rice, and Black Beans. I thought the fried pork chunks were succulent and flavorful. The ham croquette was simply divine! I was looking on the menu to see if I can just order a huge batch for takeout. They were super savory and melted in my mouth with a delightful crisp outer crust. The yucca was nicely cooked and went well with everything.
Even though I was extremely full, I really enjoyed the food here and the service. I was able to try so many things in this one sitting that I felt extremely accomplished. Since I don't like beans, I asked to substitute out the black beans and the server gave me a few choices. Communication was a bit lost in translation but she highly recommended this mixture of beans, sausage, ham, and more. It was not bad but I still don't like beans so I just picked out all the yummy meats to eat. O=9
I really enjoyed the coffee at Cafe Versailles so I thought I should end the meal off with a bang and get another cup of coffee. Unfortunately something got lost in translation and I ended up getting a regular cup of coffee and milk. It was watery and bland. I was really let down but I think that was partly my fault since we failed to communicate with each other. Later on before I left, I got two orders of just Cuban coffee for takeout and they were fine. I made sure not to order the same thing I had earlier.
All in all I really enjoyed La Carreta and I loved the variety of food I got to try. The service was much more attentive and the people were very friendly. It was a nice finish to my day on Calle Ocho, of course there was something in between that I have yet to publish. O=9 If I ever make it back to Miami, I am definitely hitting this place up again and trying out more of the different dishes that they offer.
3632 SW 8th St
Miami, FL 33135