At Tinta y Cafe, Cuban Cafe Meets Coffeehouse

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.

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

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