Take a trip to Cuba without even leaving the Boston area by stopping by Gustazo Cuban Restaurant and Cafe (which has locations in Cambridge and Waltham). Traditional Cuban food is served alongside dishes with a modern twist, so there’s plenty of dependable standbys and fresh experiences to share. Hints of Spanish colonial architecture set the mood, along with Cuban music and art.
Recommended for friends and newcomers: puerco asado (slow-roasted pork, caramelized onions, white rice, black beans, maduros), guacamole Cubano (pineapple, red onions, red bell peppers, sunflower seeds, plantain chips), pulpo a la gallega (olive oil-poached Spanish octopus, malanga puree, roasted tomatoes), and bistec encebollado (grilled ribeye, caramelized onions, confit fingerling or congri rice, maduros, chimichurri).
Standouts were the Frituras de Calabaza (squash fritters), Jibarito (fried plantain mini-sandwiches), Ropa Vieja Tacos (sort of like short rib meets taco) and the Pulpo a la Gallega (octopus), as well as the flan for dessert.