Feeling the Cuban love

June 20, 2008 12:11:39 PM PDT
This edition of Neighborhood Eats is packed with food, drink and music. And it's all part of the experience at a restaurant in East Harlem. It's a Cuban restaurant in the heart of a Cuban neighborhood.

The restaurant is decorated so that it feels like you're in the Carribbean, Cuba to be exact. It's a place most of us have never been, so this is like the next best thing. It is located at 2018 Third Avenue.

And it's one of the newest entries in the neighborhood, a bright space called Amor Cubano, or Cuban love.

There's often live music. There are always mojitos and pineapple sangria. The menu is authentic, because the residents in the community know what Cuban food is.

So Cesar Saez serves up classics, like ropa vieja, Cuban sandwiches and salads featuring garbanzo beans. And then there's the vaca frita.

Saez starts with a piece of skirt steak that gets boiled in just salted water. Once it has cooked and cooled, it's shredded and sauteed, along with onions. Then, it's flavored with lemon juice, soy sauce and a mojo made of garlic, lemon and bitter orange. It's plated with rice and, of course, beans.

With the food, the music, the drinks and the setting, you'll definitely feel the Cuban love.

Recipe for Vaca Frita


  • 1/2-pound skirt steak
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz soy sauce
  • 1 Spanish onion


  • Boil the meat, add some salt to water.

  • After the meat is well cooked, let it cool and shred the meat with your hands.

  • Right before serving, take a sauce pan, put some oil and add the meat to fry for 1 minute.

  • Add the onion, garlic, salt, lemon juice and soy sauce.

  • Cook 2 more minutes and serve right away.

    Heating Instructions:

  • Heat the meat , the rice and the beans, separately in the microwave for 1 minute.