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  • The Courier & Press

    Cuban buffet restaurant opens in Jasper

    By Aimee Blume, Evansville Courier & Press,

    26 days ago

    JASPER, Ind. − While we are still waiting on a sit-down Cuban restaurant in Evansville, Sabor Cubano Cuban buffet has recently opened in Jasper.

    The restaurant is in the Clarion Pointe hotel building on Brucke Strasse. The buffet offerings change daily according to the whims of owner and chef Evelio Otero. He and his wife, Yuslay Gomez, relocated to Jasper about four months ago to open the restaurant.

    Some basics about Cuban cuisine

    If you’re not familiar with Cuban food, know that it is not at all like Mexican food. Cuba, after all, is a Caribbean island, and while there are Hispanic influences, the food has a definite tropical island flare. Cuban food has very little chile spice.

    Rice and beans are important staples, but they’re prepared very differently than they are in Mexico. White rice cooked with black beans and flavorings is extremely popular, as is plain white rice topped with a slow-cooked stew of black beans.

    Pork and chicken are the most common meats, often marinated with citrus or stewed with tomatoes, onions and mild peppers into a stew. The most famous beef dish is ropa vieja, a stew of pulled meat in a tomato and vegetable sauce. Large pork chicharrones are popular.

    Potato-like yuca root and plantains, those big starchy bananas, are staples as well. Plantains cooked, smashed, and fried until crisp are called tostones and are very popular.

    On the buffet at Sabor Cubano

    On the night we visited, there were hot cauldrons of chicken soup and brothy seasoned black beans and pork with a steamer of white rice. There was a small cold bar with sliced salami and cheese, a tropical tuna salad with pineapple and red bell peppers, cole slaw, salad greens, sliced tomatoes and other veggies with olives and dressing.

    The banana family was well represented both with fried sweet bananas and smashed crispy plantain tostones, which we topped with slaw and hot sauce.

    The entrée bar contained plenty of hot meat and vegetable side dishes. Most were Cuban, but some, like the spaghetti and sauce, were American. Nothing was hot and spicy – quite the opposite. Flavorings were savory but mild.

    There were two pork dishes, one a roasted lechon asado topped with onion rings in a mild jus, and another in a richer sauce with red bell peppers. There was also a mild stewed chicken. We particularly enjoyed the fried fish, which was hand-battered and very moist. It was great with a squeeze of lime from the wedges on the salad bar.

    Rice dishes included a well-seasoned and rich rice and black beans combo with bits of peppers and onions; bright yellow seasoned rice and vegetables with chunks of chicken; and white rice with peppers.

    Vegetable sides included steamed mixed vegetables, cabbage with peppers, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and boiled yuca root with a spritely onion sauce to pour on top. Warm boiled eggs also were offered.

    Desserts included pudding cups, fresh and canned fruit, a sweet grated coconut dessert, sweet rice pudding with cinnamon, and hand-dipped ice creams with toppings.

    There also is a full bar which is open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

    Soon, the restaurant will open for breakfast.

    Sabor Cubano

    • Location: 272 Bruke Strasse, inside the Clarion Pointe Inn
    • Phone: 812-556-0269
    • Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (bar is open later)
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