When the Santamarina family came up with the idea of opening Tinta y Café, they had zero experience in the restaurant industry. They just decided to open one to see what happened, according to Carlos Santamarina, whose aunt and father thought of the concept. Experienced or not, they did something right.
Now in its fifth year, Tinta y Café sits near an intersection off Calle Ocho not quite in Little Havana but not quite on Brickell Avenue. The restaurant serves Cuban cafecito, croquetas, and pastelitos, as well as modern takes on classics in its menu of sandwiches and salads. Inside, you'll feel like you're in a nice living room, complete with mismatched couches for lounging and books to keep you entertained while you sip coffee.
The mornings are busy at the window, where the Brickell 9-to-5 crowd pulls up for morning fuel. And lunchtime is far from quiet.
Each day features one special and one soup of the day. Yesterday's
was the bistec en cazuela: beef simmered in a tomato-based sauce with
bell peppers and onions. For the daily specials, you can choose the
regular portion or the porción dietética, which translated literally means "diet
portion" but really means "small portion" because there's not much dietetic
about rice and plantains.
But my favorite items continue to be the sandwiches, which include the
namesake Tinta y Café: prosciutto topped with pulled pork and
caramelized onions pressed between baguette slices. For lunch, I tried a new addition called La Caleña. The sandwich is named
for the person from Cali, Colombia, who came up with the delicious
combo of turkey, prosciutto, Manchego cheese, tomato, red onions,
cilantro, and cilantro mayo. The only downside: Your breath might stink
from the onions -- but, hey, that's what mints are for.
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Tinta y Café opens at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday and recently extended their Wednesday through Friday hours
until 9:30 p.m. (they close at 7 p.m. on other days). They also deliver on weekdays from 11 a.m.
to 3 p.m.
Tinta y Café
268 SW Eighth St., Miami