Imagine croquetas, medianoches, and picadillo, all 100 percent vegan and served out of a ventanita in Kendall. Well, soon that will be a reality for plant-based eaters and the vegan-curious alike.
Vegan Cuban Cuisine creates its plant-based recipes by veganizing traditional Cuban recipes and making sure they are abuela approved. Owners Steven Rodriguez and Lismeilyn "Liz" Machado, now 28, came to Miami from Cuba as preteens and met in middle school. Having gone vegan for health reasons, they've combined their professional experience and love for Cuban tradition to open Vegan Cuban Cuisine.
Rodriguez and Machado started slinging plant-based croquetas and Cuban sandwiches in November 2018 at the Coconut Grove Farmers Market, Aguacate Sanctuary of Love, Manna Life Food, Ali's Sweet Treats, and Suite Habana Cafe, among other locales. Now, after a successful run offering delivery and catering, they're adding the ventanita.
"It all started with our desire to have accessible and delicious Cuban food without compromising the lives of innocent animals and the well-being of our planet," Rodriguez tells New Times. "Our first recipe was created for a non-vegan family gathering and we were surprised to see how everyone reacted. No one could believe our food was vegan."
When Vegan Cuban Cuisine opens next Tuesday, September 15, the menu will include staples like plant-based ham ($2) and chickpea ($2.50) croquetas, pastries, papas rellenas, and heartier entrées like a Cuban sandwich ($12), the picadillo bowl ($13), and imperial rice ($13). Online ordering will be available through vegancubancuisine.com, Uber Eats, and Grubhub. The ventanita will be open for orders placed in advance online only until October, at which time it will be open for walk up orders.
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“We have a lot of love and passion for our Cuban food. Most of our recipes are geared towards attracting meat-eaters towards a healthier alternative lifestyle with foods that are familiar to them. It is our mission to show the world how veganism isn't a restricted lifestyle, just a healthier and sustainable alternative,” says Machado, who began researching veganism after their first child was born.
"Everything pointed for us to go in this direction, so we made the decision that same day," she says. "Our health, combined with our love for animals — we knew it was the way to go."
Miami is known for its authentic Cuban food offerings but was lacking a fully vegan counterpart. Homegrown favorites like Sergio’s now offer a fully plant-based frita and Vicky Bakery has vegan Cuban bread. (The cuisine is trending beyond South Florida: Equelecua Cafe opened in 2014 in Pasadena, California, though it closed in March until further notice owing to COVID-19.)
Vegan Cuban Cuisine. 9640 SW 72nd St., Miami; 786-391-1542; vegancubancuisine.com. Tuesday through Sunday noon to 8 p.m. Ventanita opens September 15 for advance takeout orders and delivery. In October, it opens for walk up orders.