Best Croquetas (2009)
In a far-off land called Little Havana, there is a humble abode called La Palma Restaurant. Inside, past twisted blue wrought-iron railing and through an enchanted forest of characters that range from Cuban princesses to chain-smoking serfs, is a window above a granite counter — a ventanilla, if you will — staffed by women who transform into witches if you don't speak their native tongue and guard, with troll-like glares, three croquetas.
The first, filled with fish, is perhaps a tad strong, evoking the smell of Papa Bear's trout breath in just a single bite. The second, chock full of chicken, is too weak, like a girl with blond locks who's about to receive a major beatdown from a family of violated grizzlies. Yet the third, stuffed with ham, is just right, making a possibly long wait and awkward conversation with La Palma's pleasant waitstaff well worth it.
And although the croquetas at this Calle Ocho joint lack centers filled with flecks of parsley, wild mushrooms, or Manchego cheese, like at other (and pricier) local spots, they're still the most magical in all the land. Silky and smoky with a crisp fried crust, these scrumptious golden brown nubs allow your taste buds to live happily ever after. Plus, at 86 cents each, one or even ten of them is no hair off of your chinny, chin, chin.
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