Sabor de Cuba Opens

From the Frederick News-Post:

Sabor de Cuba, a restaurant that offers authentic Cuban food, opens today at 9 E. Patrick St., former location of the Ethiopian restaurant in downtown Frederick. The restaurant’s owners, Irieska Caetano and Angel Gattorno, gave us a rundown on the business.

You can check out the menu and get their hours on their website and follow them on Facebook.

Anyone try Sabor de Cuba out yet? If so let us know how it was in the comments.


22 thoughts on “Sabor de Cuba Opens

  1. We went for dinner last night. The food was great, but the service… needs help. I will give them the benefit of the doubt since it was their first night, and I assume that they have a lot of bugs to work out. It was INCREDIBLY slow (it took about 45 minutes to get our food), and our waiter seemed very inexperienced and was quite unfriendly. Again, I think it is understandable that the kitchen may have been overwhelmed on their first night and that they have kinks to work out, but I think the slow service could have been mitigated by the hostess or someone coming over to check on us, to apologize and give us an ETA… anything. However, we were just ignored for most of the evening while the waitstaff stood around and chatted with each other.

    Like I said, the food was great, and I will definitely go back. I will assume that they will work on their service issues and create a better overall experience for their guests.


  2. Awesome!! I miss That Cuban Place (yes, different owners). Love Cuban food! I’ll have to try it this weekend.

    Glad the Ethiopian restaurant is gone. Overpriced compared to others I’ve been to in Silver Spring and DC.


  3. I too was excited about Sabor de Cuba opening up. I love a good cuban sandwich. So I took the family there on Saturday afternoon to try it. I was thinking it was going to be a bit like That Cuban Place, but it was fancier than I thought, so with three kids 6 years old and under I immediately started having second thoughts. Luckily, it wasn’t supercrowded, so we were able to be out of the way and not feel too bad about the kids making a ruckus.

    But… I was really surprised that they didn’t have a kids menu at all. I had checked out their website briefly and just assumed there would be something for the kids to eat without checking all the parts of it. But no kids menu. We solved that problem and they were pretty accomodating, ordering a ham and cheese sandwich for one of our kids and another got the empanadas.

    It turned out the empanadas were the highlight of our meal. We got two of the appetizers of empanadas (one beef and one chicken) and both were excellent. I’d say the chicken was a little more of a standout as it was really well flavored, I think with some lime.

    Since it was a Saturday afternoon, I was a little surprised to get a dinner menu, but we did, so my wife and I both decided on sandwiches. I got the Cubano and she got the steak/onion sandwich. Sadly, I’d say both were average. The Cubano was on the dry side and poorly constructed; the mustard and pickles were concentrated in the middle portion of the sandwich, so beyond a few bites, it tasted like you were eating a ham and pork sandwich. The bread was good, though; crispy on the outside. As for my wife’s sandwich, it was advertised as flank steak and onions, but the flank steak was supppper well done, to the point of being very chewy and dry. The flavor that was there was good, but it was hard to get past the well-done-ness of the sandwich.

    The previous comment about service was true for us too. Took quite a bit of time get the appetizers, and the waitress we had didn’t really make many visits to check on drinks, etc.

    For the price ($9 for the Cubano; $8 for the steak and onions) you also would expect a side, but those are extra. I ordered fries with my Cubano but the waitress I guess forgot and we didn’t get them (more sloppy service). Sadly, I think I’d rather go to Lunchbox for their Cuban at $5.

    So as sad as it is to say, I don’t think we’ll be returning to Sabor de Cuba.


  4. We were so excited to hear that another cuban restaurant was opening after That Cuban Place closed and always want to support Frederick local businesses. Unfortunately, based on our experience this past Saturday evening, we were disappointed. The service was poor, we waited for 15+ minutes to be greeted by a server and asked for a drink order (and only after the hostess noted that we hadn’t received any attention). Then we waited at least a half hour for our appetizers, no one made note of them being late, and we had to ask twice when they’d arrive (we’d been there close to an hour at this point). A manager (?) did stop by to apologize for the lateness after our second inquiry, an adjustment to the bill for the wait would have been welcomed but did not occur. I always run shy of going to a new restaurant in the first weeks as the kinks in service aren’t always yet worked out (ex. our server had to ask another server to answer our menu question, empty water glasses went unfilled), but would hope that the food would be good enough to let us overlook the service. That unfortunately wasn’t the case, generally everything was under-seasoned and unremarkable and the consistency of the meat was not good. My husband spent many years in Miami, so has some expectations of cuban food, which were far from met here. We wanted to love it, we wanted to find a new semi-casual favorite downtown restaurant, but unfortunately, unless we note different experiences from others and better reviews, I doubt we’ll venture back.


    • I posted on their FB page that several of us hoped to eat there this coming Saturday night and that we looked forward to prompt and excellent service as we have theater tickets and no time to wait. They responded, not that we could expect good service, but that we should “order something that doesn’t take so long to fix.” Bad bad response. Later I again posted on their FB page that the reviews I’d been reading indicated that slow service was a real problem. They deleted my post. So I emailed them and told them that if the customers are upset about the time it takes to get served, the management does NOT say it’s the customers fault for ordering the wrong thing! I did state that we very much wanted to see them do well and prosper and that ignoring or blaming the customers was not the way to do it. Downtown competition is brutal. They’ve made zero response to the email. I’m thinking we won’t be going there Saturday.


  5. My review with photos on my blog page, but copied here too:

    6 February 2012: I was so excited to read in the Frederick Maryland Online web site (which I subscribe to and sometimes post comments) that a new Cuban restaurant was opening in town. It’s called Sabor de Cuba and it’s located on Patrick Street in downtown Frederick Maryland.

    This past Saturday was First Saturday, a monthly event held in Frederick. We decided to try Sabor for dinner. We arrived at 6:30pm (no reservations) and were seated immediately. We went in expecting slow service, as Sabor only opened on 1 February. We know that restaurants take some time to work out any kinks and we were not in a rush to leave.

    The restaurant was full, a good sign I think. There is a small bar with about 5 bar stools and the dining room for about 50 people.

    The menu looked great with lots of typical Cuban dishes, although I did review it on their web site.

    Appetizers range from $2 to $10 and include items such as empanadas (beef or chicken), tostones (green plantains stuffed with either beef or shrimp), croquetas de jamon, etc. Two items of note were the bread and butter or bread with garlic butter appetizers at $2. Unlike many Cuban restaurants we’ve been to (and even most other restaurants) you pay for your bread if you want any.

    There’s a soup and two salads ($4 to $8), and four choices of sandwiches ($8 and $9) including the Cubano (one of my favorites).

    Entrées include a nice selection from Bistec de Palomilla, Picadillo (another favorite), Ropa Vieja, Arroz con Pollo, etc. Price for dinner range from $14 to $18.

    We ordered the Empanadas de carne ($5), the Pollo a la Plancha for myself ($14) and the Bistec de Palomilla ($16) for Tony. I also ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio ($5.50) and Tony had a soda.

    As I said, we know service can be slow with a new restaurant but I felt 40 minutes was a little on the long side to receive our empanadas. It even took some time to get our drinks, although I saw them sitting on the bar.

    The empanadas were wonderful! Nice and meaty inside and very flavorful. The dough was golden brown and not greasy at all.

    Our dinners arrived 15 minutes later. Tony’s dish included black beans and rice, as well as sweet plantains. The bistec, which is pounded thin and grilled, was hidden under the plantains. It was a small 2.5 to 2.75-ounce piece of overcooked, dry meat.

    My chicken (citrus marinated and grilled) came with sweet plantains, not green plantains I was expecting, as stated on the menu. It was also supposed to come with black beans and rice. My chicken looked to be about 3 ounces total. It took at 15 minutes to get my rice and beans after the young waitress told me my dish did not include rice and beans, and after I asked to see a menu and pointed it out to her. Most typical Cuban meals include rice and beans. It shouldn’t have taken 15 minutes for her to bring out my food when the mistake was discovered. In fact, I had to ask the hostess, who saw what was going on to bring me the food, which she did.

    Tony and I were very disappointed in our food. To be charged $16 and $18 for our entrées with meat portions no larger than 3 ounces was unacceptable. This is a Cuban restaurant – foods that are simply made with wonderful flavors, and with inexpensive ingredients. I noticed other dishes that came out of the kitchen and the portions looked much bigger (i.e., the Picadillo, Camarones Enchilados (sautéed shrimp, and Ropa Vieja). Our bill arrived and I was charged $23 for my glass of wine, the price of a bottle. The bill was corrected. After dinner, we sat at the bar and hand a round of drinks and chatted with two bartenders (mother, daughter). At one point Tony made the comment about how small the meat portion was but was shrugged off by the employees.

    We will return to Sabor after the dust settles and to give it a second chance. We have to believe our dishes were just not properly prepared with the correct size portion of the beef and chicken. And I want my green plantains! After all, their web site states, “Simple food, complex flavors.” That usually means good food and reasonable prices to us.

    After dinner, we walked around town checking out the various ice sculptures. Fire and Ice was the theme for February’s First Saturday.


  6. Wow, I just posted my review on their FB page and it got deleted within a minute. Wouldn’t a restaurant appreciate comments, positive or negative? Doen’t they want to improve in order to keep customers coming back?

    And by the way, Millie R. on Yelp posted a 5-star comment about the food. She was working the bar Saturday night.


    • Well at least I know I’m not alone then! 🙂 I even asked them, can you imagine telling Gordon Ramsey that it’s the customers fault if things don’t go well? I see a sinking ship. And I’m so very sorry for that.


  7. I posted a second time on FB but it too was gone in seconds. Any restaurant that wants to ignore their customers or doesn’t want to consider any constructive criticism will not last long in this business. I too want them to do well but they need to get on the ball with the quality of the food and customer service. Gypsy, as you said, “Downtown competition is brutal.” I hope Alfredo (That Cuban Place) has his truck in town in the spring!


  8. I was thinking about trying Sabor de Cuba this weekend or next, but I believe I’ll pass. Not just because of the food and service problems described here, but also because of the owner’s poor attitude toward constructive feedback.


  9. My wife and I went on Sunday, and there’s not much to add, but I can echo that service was slow, the food was ok, and the whole thing is overpriced.
    We tried the beef empanadas, which were good but greasy, then waited and waited for our food, and we were seated right by the kitchen (though they weren’t full) so my wife could see when they put our plantains up (and watched them sit at the pass for 20 minutes). We tried the Cuban Sandwich and the Pork Sandwich, and the Yuca and sweet plantains, and everything was ok but not great.
    Honestly all it did was make me miss That Cuban Place even more. At least I can still get a good cuban sandwich at Lunchbox for a decent price (though its not nearly as good as TCP).


  10. Water-cooler conversation at work Monday worked its way around to First Saturday and food, and it turns out a co-worker and I both had a Sabor experience over the weekend. Ours was pretty different than what you all have described here, but we did go earlier in the day.

    My wife and I came early afternoon. Place was maybe half full. We were seated promptly and our waiter — Sergio? — took a drink order right away. We ordered appetizers and didn’t have to wait more than maybe 10 minutes before they were on the table. While we waited, a tall guy and a shorter woman — the owners, we later found out — were working the room a bit and stopped by to thank us for coming in. They explained it was opening week (we knew this already) and actually warned that not everything was clicking they way it would eventually click. We didn’t have any problems, though. The beer was cold. It came quickly. We ordered Cubanos and they were delicious. We took our time, enjoyed our meal, and were in and out in probably an hour and 15 minutes. The tres leches, by the way, was absolutely fabulous. Best I’ve had.

    If you’d been to this place when it was Ethiopian, you can appreciate how much they’ve done to clean it up and brighten it up. The Sabor owners seemed committed and enthusiastic. I don’t know what the crowds were like Friday night or Saturday night, but if First Saturday brought thousands to downtown Frederick, I imagine they were totally slammed and service suffered. Probably a lot. But our experience was, well, great. We’ll come back.

    And Monica . . . I don’t have any trouble at all seeing your various posts — the restaurant critique ones. They’re right at the top when I go to their wall and select Everyone (Most Recent).

    Charge on, folks! Downtown Frederick is the best!


  11. Alfredo posted on FB last night that TCP will be opening in March again in a new location. The location posted in a post is 506 E Church Street near GoodWill. More seating ad more room. With TCP back, I do not see Sabor de Cuba lasting long.

    And the owners of Sabor de Cuba are not Cuban. They are from Nicaragua. One of the owner’s is related somehow to a famous Cuban painter. There is a large difference between the food of Cuba and Central America. Right now if I want Cuban food I make it myself or my dad, who immigrated from Cuba eons ago, makes it.


  12. My wife and I dined at Sabor de Cuba last night and it was really good. We started with the Mixed Empanadas (spelling?) The beef was good, but the chicken was excellent. For dinner I had the Red Snapper and my wife had the Steak. The snapper was delicious and it was huge, must have been at least 16oz. My wife’s steak on the other hand had good flavor but was a little tough. She ended up taking half of my fish. My wife told the server that the steak was tough so the Chef/owner Mike came out and brought us a brand new one. He was very friendly and apologetic. He stayed a few minutes and shared his background and some of his ingredients with us. He was actually born in Cuba and has Cuban parents. All the recipes are his and his grandmothers.

    We ended the evening with the Flan and it was great. Overall we had a great experience and we will definitely be going back again.


  13. My Fiance and I had our “Date Night” and decided to try the new Cuban Restaurant in town. We were seated right away. The staff was very friendly. I had a Mojito, which was awesome. We ordered Empanadas, they were juicy and very good. He ordered a Cubano, and I a chicken sandwich, both were very good! Will definitely go back. Mike, the chef, came out and greeted us, gave us a little bit of his Cuban background. Very friendly guy. Very clean, authentic restaurant!


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