New to the Key? Interested in expanding your culinary oeuvre? If you’re attending a Pankey course, you should add Cuban to your list of must-try Key Biscayne cuisine.
Luckily, just across the street from the Pankey Institute is a small (but recently renovated & expanded) walk-up restaurant called ‘Oasis Cafe.’ Ordering at this local’s favorite can seem intimidating at first to those unfamiliar with Cuban cuisine, but it is actually a great experience.
The cafe is such a local institution it doesn’t have a sign, so we created a map to help you find it!
The food isn’t fancy, but it is real cuban food! You probably can’t go wrong with any selection, so it’s worthwhile to simply see what’s cooking today or ask for recommendations from the Oasis staff.
On the other hand, you could try out some of our favorites:
Pankey Favorites – Cuban Food at The Oasis Cafe
1. The Cuban Sandwich
This sandwich is not like other sandwiches. You either love it or your hate it. Cuban sandwiches are legendary for their salty-savory expansion on the traditional ‘ham and cheese.’ Trust us, they are on a whole new level.
Cuban sandwiches are filled with three different types of meat: ham, roasted pork, and salami. Pickles, mustard, and Swiss cheese add depth to the flavor profile. Everything is then squeezed between flaky, soft Cuban bread (a delight in its own right).
2. Cafe Con Leche or a Cortadito
Coffee with milk? It sounds simple, but a true cafe con leche from a Cuban establishment is a very specific type of drink made with strong cuban espresso. Despite not actually being food or ‘cuisine,’ cafe con leche is an essential part of a Cuban-inspired meal. If you like your coffee stronger, ask for a Cortadito. Think of it as a smaller, more intense cappuccino. Get it the way the locals like it: “con azucar” (with sugar).
Empanadas are a savory pastry usually made with beef. They are universally adored for their reasonably doughy, deliciously fried exterior and flavorful insides. You won’t be able to stop at just one, we promise. They are filling, moist, and perfect for an on-the-go lunch.
4. Guava & Cheese Pastelitos
Think of fruity cheesecake filling in a warm, flaky, fresh-baked pastry. Its a delicious, authentic cuban pastry with a unique, islands flavor. There are other flavors and even savory versions with meat, but we recommend you just ask for a “Guava & Cheese”.
5. Sweet Fried Plantains
“Maduros” as they are called are a delicious treat, often included with a meal as a side dish. Plaintains look like large bananas, but have a different flavor and texture. Even if you don’t like bananas, you may like Maduros, which are fried (but not breaded). The sugars in the fruit are caramelized, and many like them slightly burnt.
How important is a satisfying local food scene to you when taking CE? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!