Old Clothes for Lunch?

That doesn’t sound appetizing, does it?  Well, sit back.  It’ll get better.

In Las Vegas, you can be in a New York state of mind, stroll like a Parisian, or go back to the time  of the Romans.  But you can also be in Florida and Cuba at the same time! South of Las Vegas Boulevard, where the traffic eases a little , you will find the Florida Cafe, a Cuban bar & grill tucked inside the unassuming Howard Johnson’s Motel. It is said to be the best place for Cuban cuisine in this part of the desert.

Since my “food trip” was focused on ethnic cuisine, I thought I would have my last Vegas lunch at Florida Cafe.  It has always been my experience with Carribean restaurants that you are constantly faced with options.  Agua botella or agua natural? Cafe espresso o Cafe Americano?  Black or red beans?  But each time, the only option for me as far as pre-meal cocktails is concerned, is the mojito!

I’ve been having so much of pork dishes during my Las Vegas week trip that I decided to try some res, or beef.  So I ordered a simple dish called “Vieja Ropa,” literally, “Old Clothes!”  It is a popular Cuban cuisine made of beef, shredded into strips like cut-out rags, hence the name.  Basically a beef stew, it reminds me of the Filipino beef kaldereta or beef afritada,  all of which are tomato-based.  Unlike the Filipino dishes, though, Vieja Ropa doesn’t come with other ingredients like potatoes, carrots or green peas.  It’s as plain as beef in tomato sauce.  I liked the tangy flavor which complemented the side bowl of black beans and steamed rice.  I am sure it also goes well as a filling for burritos or sandwiched between two slices of sourdough bread.

It was a simple meal. Filling. Satisfying. So the next time I visit with my sister in Florida, I know  what options I have when eating out!


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