The sandwich cubano is a Miami treasure, gulped down by countless customers every day. Over the years (since 1974), Latin American Cafeteria has been associated with the biggest, baddest rendition in town. But the question has often been: Which is the real Latin American Cafeteria? The answer would be Raul Galindo's Latin American, but for the past few years, Raul hasn't been involved with any. That's about to change.
"We finally got a space," says Robert Quintero, one of Galindo's partners. We're on Southwest 12th Avenue and First Street. It's called the President's Corner, where Ronald Reagan went to eat at a place that was called 'La Esquina de Tejas'. We're fixing it up, and calling it 'Gallindo's Original Latin American' so there's no confusion. We're going to have a media grand opening in 60 to 90 days."
But what about all those other Latin American places? The Latin American Cafeteria on Coral Way was a partnership between Raul Galindo and others; according to Robert, they ended up cutting him from the deal. "They left Raul out to dry, didn't give him his percentage." That was about 36 months ago.
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"There are about 45 restaurants open in Miami with the name 'Latin American'," says Robert. There's Latin American Grill, Latin American 2000, LA Café, Latin American this, Latin American that. There's a guy on 57th Avenue and 8th Street that uses the name 'Luis Galindo Latin American Cafeteria, which is the name of Raul's deceased brother. He's been dead for fifteen years." (Luis and Raul came here together from Cuba and were partners in the original Latin American ventures).
The story behind all of the Latin American cafeterias is a long and fascinating one that involves ex-wives, hurricanes, swindlers and the like. But for now, what's important to note is that Raul is back, and the original sandwich cubano is coming back with him.
As for putting an end to all of the confusion, Quintero tells us that "Down the road, the 'Latin American' is going to be phased out (from the name) and we're going to stick with Galindo's. This way we can patent it and nobody else can use it."