February 23, 2024


Food & Travel Enthusiast

Scoop: Havana Carolina owners open new Cuban cafe in Charlotte

El Puro, a cafe celebrating 1950s, pre-innovative Cuba, opens this week in Madison Park.

The house owners are Manny Pérez Ochoa, his sister, Ana, and mother, Dania, Cuban immigrants who also have Havana Carolina Cafe & Bar in Harmony. 

Why it matters: In 2019, Manny and his family members shared with me the story of how they fought to hold Havana Carolina alive following the loss of their father and “dreamer” of the loved ones, Idael Pérez Maldonado, who died at the age of 44. 

  • Now they are expanding with a place in Charlotte.
  • “It’s likely to be a room wherever Aged Cuba meets modern-day Charlotte,” owner Manny suggests.

Amongst the traces: The name has two meanings. In Cuba, “El Puro” is a typical nickname for father, and the new restaurant is a further devoted tribute to Idael. Idael put in his young days interacting with vacationers in the vacation resort town of Varadero so, fittingly, reside audio will be a significant section of the new restaurant’s scene. 

  • Also, as a cigar term, “el Puro” refers to the provenance of the tobacco inside. A cigar wrapper has been included into the restaurant’s brand. Like several Cubans, on distinctive instances, Idael would take pleasure in the occasional cigar. 

What to assume: Manny claims the kitchen area will characteristic a great deal of the very same essence that has brought customers again to Havana Carolina above the a long time — slow-roasted flavors, usually not missing in garlic.

The foods:

  • Masitas de la Loma: tender pork shoulder chunks slathered in home mojo sauce with onion, lime, and garlic served tabletop more than a smoking cigarettes La Caja China.
masitas de lomo from El Puro

Masitas de loma in a cajita china. Picture: Courtesy of Ben Jarrell

  • Tamal en Casuela: baked in a petite Dutch oven alternatively than a regular corn husk, El Puro’s model works by using freshly grated cornmeal, emulsified with garlic, and pork fats completed with crispy chicharron crumbs. [**Writer’s note: the flavors here will make Southerners feel right at home.]
tamal en casuela from El Puro

Tamal en Casuela. Photo: Courtesy of Ben Jarrell

  • Langosta Macorina: 8oz freshly caught Caribbean lobster stuffed with its own meat and home Creole tomato sauce with olive oil and parsley, in an avocado product base. “Although it is not an enchilado, it reminds us of the scrumptious enchilado de langosta that my mother employed to make in the B&B back again in Cuba,” operator Ana says.
  • “PUR”-iche: Dania’s variation of ceviche with seasonal fish, poached, cubed, and marinated with onion, sweet aji cachucha peppers and lime. But it’s her addition of leche de tigre — a reduction of the fish poaching broth — that elevates this dish to some thing genuinely special.
puriche from el puro

“PUR”-iche with a aspect of sweet-potato fried plantains. Photo: Laura Barrero/ Axios

Other highlights: Are living songs will be at the middle (virtually) with a phase constructed into the eating room with Latin Jazz from 7:30pm to 10:30pm on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday the phase hosts dwell Cuban salsa tunes in the afternoon.

  • Surrounded by Tiffany-model lamps, a neon sign earlier mentioned the stage reads, “La vida es un carnaval,” from a common tune by Cuban musician Celia Cruz.
  • A wander-up window echoes identical places on the streets of Cuba where by patrons can get a speedy chunk to-go or to consume en la terraza (on the patio).

Reminding me of an outdated bluegrass tune, Dania described the way she stored her family members going.

“When anything took place (with her husband’s unanticipated death), I mentioned we have two possibilities,” Dania stated. “Because lifestyle was tricky with us, we essential to rebuild ourselves. And we made a decision it would be for the very best.”

According to Dania, the loved ones was at a crossroads. Just one route led to destruction and despair. The other led them earlier the pearly gates and nicely, below. 

“We’re striving to make a space where by people can quit time, and love the everyday living. Convey loved ones, provide close friends,” she states. “You know … live,” suggests Dania.

Dania presents me her edition of the Golden Rule.

  • “It’s not just a company. It is a enjoy in the meals, a adore in the consume, a love in how you want to be treated.”

My assumed bubble: But it was not just Dania’s terms that had these an effect on me. It was her eyes. Obtaining not too long ago shed my personal mom, it was a most welcome sight. In that a person search, Dania showed me her hope for the long term — a upcoming that appears to be like brilliant, vibrant, and whole of new music.

What is subsequent: El Puro has an opening day established for Nov. 19.

  • It will be shut Mondays and Tuesdays.
  • The actual deal with is 5033 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28217. 
el puro bar

The bar depicts the Cuban flag. See the pink triangles on top and the blue and white stripes on the bottom. Picture: Laura Barrero/Axios

el puro restaurant

Seating suitable by the kitchen area at El Puro. Photograph: Laura Barrero/ Axios

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