First Bites

Breaking the Fast at Casa Cafe, Now Serving Cuban Eats in Shenandoah

Sure, Latin cafes are a dime a dozen in Miami.  But a close look reveals that each of these neighborhood dives has its own collection of cooks, quirks and kooks -- idiosyncrasies that draw you to them and make you love 'em, even when you'd love to hate 'em. 

Good coffee, however, is non-negotiable when choosing which haunt to pledge allegiance.  Casa Cafe, brand new to the eastern stretch of Coral Way known as S.W. Third Ave., has very good coffee.  And the husband/wife team at the reigns will treat you like family, too.

I stopped in on Saturday for breakfast and ordered up the special, a glorified version of my usual tostada (cuban toast with butter) and cortadito (mini latte,) but with four scrambled claras (egg whites) and a choice of bacon, sausage or ham for $4.99.

"This is a volume business," explains owner Tammy who, with husband Antonio, remodeled the place in three weeks with the help of family and friends. "I'd rather serve the more expensive product and have people come back because they like it, than sacrifice the quality for my customers."

They're serving the high end of middle end, Cafe Bustello Supreme coffee, the number one Cuban coffee brand in the U.S. Enjoy its deep, roasted flavor in Casa Cafe's cortadito, which is a market-consistent, but no less gratifying, $1.

The rest of the menu revolves around hot house specials ($10.50 - 15.99) and lunch specials ($7.99, scheduled for each day of the week) that come with a choice of two sides like salad, rice, beans (red or black,) french fries, maduros (sweet plantains,) fried yuca and tostones (green plantains.)  There's fried seafood, meats a la plancha (flat top grill,) arroz con pollo and even a "rotisserie" chicken done in the oven on Wednesdays.  A selection of sandwiches, wraps and salads rounds out the mix; there's something for each day part, except for late night since they close at 7 p.m.

"There have been some late nights," Tammy adds of converting the space

formerly occupied by Sake Room Sushi Lounge.  It's next to a

laundramat.  "It's taken us three weeks to get to this point. 

We're finishing up the wall this week."

Tammy is speaking of the dry wall they've assembled to separate the kitchen from the front of the house -- which I'm politely asked not to photograph. It's no wonder she's a little camera-shy with the place. I had originally dropped in on them at the height of construction unannounced. (A sign up is fair game though, in my book!)  The bulk of her business so far is from the offices on the block, with the occasional laundry-doer.  And she even has some regulars already who come in mornings with newspaper in hand for pastelitos and cup of morning joe just the way they like it.

Casa Cafe
1830 S.W. 3rd Ave.
Miami (Shenandoah)

Open Mon-Sat (for now, although the sign and menu say Sun, too.)
7a.m. - 7 p.m.

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Jackie Sayet