Date Night Food and Fashion: 90 Miles Cuban Cafe

Many of us dream of visiting Cuba, but the reality of actually making
the journey to the land of sugar white beaches, sexy salsa
entanglements and tangy-sweet mojitos is quite low.

The
beauty of living in a city like Chicago is that we have access to some
of the most authentic international cuisine available. 90 Miles Cuban Cafe
is as traditional and close to Cuban as you can get, with the owners
taking a shrimp boat from Mariel Harbor, Cuba in 1980 and landing in Key
West. They were ready to set up the American dream of running a
restaurant and have created a way to travel to Cuba without a passport.

Locations

I
first dined at their Roscoe Village location, which has the feel of
eating in a tented market on the streets of Havana. It is decorated to
feel like a you are in a true neighborhood eatery complete with
clotheslines and wall murals. I love the fact that it is BYOB, so I can
enjoy my drink of choice and make the meal more affordable! Next time,
though, I will bring a spirit and pair it with one of their homemade
mixers.

They
also have a Logan Square location, which boasts a massive patio
complete with heaters to extend our al fresco dining season. They are
also BYOB with specials similar to the Roscoe Village spot.

I
also had the opportunity to dine at their Lincolnwood location which is
actually in the mall. I had walked by a few times, thinking it was a
small chain restaurant. WAS I EVER WRONG. The dining area is huge and
fills up nightly, accompanied by a party room in the back of the
restaurant. They also have a stage for live entertainment which occurs
regularly.

The Food

Every dish I sampled at 90 Miles Cuban Cafe
was exquisite, dishes rich in color, flavor and texture delivering a
culinary experience like no other. My best friend Keki, who studied
abroad in Cuba, accompanied me and gushed about the memories that came
flooding back when she tried their Mariquitas (plantain chips with a
rich garlic sauce) and Empanadas (assorted fillings inside a fried dough
pocket). Don’t you love how they stamp each and every empanada with “90
Miles”? All in the details!

As
for appetizers that I loved, the Calamar Criollo was unlike any
traditional calamari I have sampled. You can opt for it with squid ink
(which I did, when in Rome/Cuba) and the flavor was buttery garlicy
deliciousness. It does come out totally black, not like any calamari
that you are used to, so be forewarned!

I
opted for a Cuban sandwich at their Roscoe Village location- juicy ham,
roast pork, swiss cheese, pickle and mustard pressed and grilled. This
is one of my faves- the combination of flavors is savory and mild with a
little bite. 

On special nights, they also serve
paella- a massive pile of succulent seafood surrounded by saffron-hued
rice and cooked plantains topped with a crustacean. This is easily a
dish for two or more- the perfect date night dish to split.

If
you are in the mood for a traditional Cuban cocktail, try their version
of a Rum & Coke called a Cuba Libre. I personally love mojitos, and
90 Miles Cuban Cafe has perfected the recipe to go down smooth and
leave you ordering more. I also sampled a pineapple concoction that was
served in an actual pineapple- this makes you feel like you are truly on
vacation!

They do have Gluten Free options, denoted as such on their menu as well as vegetarian dishes.

The Entertainment

When
I see live entertainment advertised at a restaurant, images of a lone
guitar player crooning into a low volume microphone fill my mind. Want
to know what 90 Miles’ version of live entertainment is? An incredibly
lively flamenco show that is completely riveting and beautiful, Spanish
ballads being sung with more emotion than a Nicholas Sparks’ film, and
the sound of clapping filling the air. A major bravo for the the Ensemble Espanol, the world-renowned dance company
that performs- you can FEEL the passion and story they are telling
through their controlled yet fluid movements.

The
party doesn’t stop after the show though- Friday and Saturday nights
feature live entertainment AND they are open until 3am! Our server
assured us that the restaurant is packed until close, and patrons dance
the night away. 

What to Wear

I think planning what to wear to a date night is half of my excitement. I chose a flared, full polka dot skirt (I bought mine from Amazon.com- under $20, but check the sizing) and a fitted sweater with holes throughout the sleeves and back with reasonably comfortable dancing shoes. Adding a bold red lip and paring with a red Kate Spade clutch completes the look- put together but ready to party.

I also wore a palm print fit and flare dress (Old Navy) the second time I visited 90 Miles Cuban Cafe and added abalone and gold disk earrings with a graduated gold disk necklace (Rocksbox). Orange-hued lipstick (Smashbox in Mandarin) works well with shades of blue and green and doesn’t wash me out as much as a bold red.

I truly hope you visit one of the 90 Miles Cuban Cafe
locations- it is like taking a mini vacation for a few hours, relaxing
and enjoying excellent, authentic food, a vibrant and colorful
atmosphere, hospitable staff and top-notch entertainment.

Visit their site here and select the location to view hours, specials and entertainment!

Cheers
to giving in to the spirit of the night- bring your “anything can
happen” attitude and dancing shoes! Thank you to 90 Miles Cuban Cafe for
hosting Keki and I!

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