Pambiche

Nobody would ever accuse me of being an aficionado of anything Cuban—I’ve sadly never loved plantains, thought Mojo was just a quicker way to say mojito, and I’ve been known to buy Swisher Sweets when someone asks me to pick them up a cigar. But if Pambiche is representative of the warmth, grace, vivid color, and tastiness of Cuba, then I hope I get to visit someday soon. Until then, I’ll just go on holiday at Pambiche, where even a simple lunch feels like a trip to the Caribbean.

If Pambiche is representative of the warmth, grace, vivid color, and tastiness of Cuba, then I hope I get to visit someday soon. Until then, I’ll just go on holiday at Pambiche, where even a simple lunch feels like a trip to the Caribbean.

You’ll notice the restaurant way before you ever take a peek at a menu—the joyfully technicolor building is probably visible via binoculars if you’re standing on Mars. Next, you’ll observe the line waiting to claim a table in the tiny dining room or at one of the outdoor picnic tables spilling over with festive natives.

If you opt to eat inside, the dazzling dessert case will stop you in your tracks before you ever sit down—elaborate cakes and other goodies tempt you to start your meal with something sweet. Resist! When you finally make it to a table, you’ll have some tough decisions to make–the menu is long and filled with very delicious sounding things.

Start with a few smaller items like the golden fried yuca with spicy garlicky mojo sauce, the spinach and cheese empañada, and the black-eyed pea fritters, perhaps a fresh beet and watercress salad if you must. Platos include the Plato Cubano–adobo marinated roast pork with Cuban beans and rice, or Rabo Encendido (Oxtail on Fire).

If you’re in the mood for a Cuban sandwich, there are quite a few, try the Croqueta Preparada–roast pork, smoked ham, and croquetas de jamón in a fresh Cuban roll. Then the grand finale you’ve been waiting for–dessert. Dense rummy carrot cake, caramelly pineapple spice cake with Piña Colada salsa, and coconut chocolate cake with caramel peanut filling and Oaxancan chocolate ganache glaze. You’ll need to relax after a meal like that, but hopefully you brought your own cigar because all I have are these darn Swisher Sweets.

Details

Cuisine: Cuban

Executive Chef: John Connell-Maribona

Atmosphere: Lively, colorful, festive, wildly fun artwork everywhere…you’re in close quarters with everyone else, but you feel so friendly you don’t mind at all

Outdoor seating: Yes, quite a few highly-coveted sidewalk tables

Best Seat: In the window or outside at a sidewalk table

Noise Level: Boisterous

Dress Code: Casual

Bring the Kids: Yes

Bathrooms: Yes, the door is on the right hand side of the restaurant, in between the windows and the kitchen

Parking: Free and easy to find on surrounding side streets

Cocktails: Yes, but they are all prepared with wine, sherry or beer ($5-$6)

Beer: Yes

Wine: Yes, the short but carefully assembled list is comprised of Spanish, Latin American, and Oregon whites, reds and sherries, by the glass ($5-$7.50) and by the bottle ($24-$30).

Teetotalers: Traditional Cuban soft drinks ($2), fresh squeezed juices, sugar can lemonade, hot chocolate, housemade tropical iced tea, milkshakes

Coffee: Pambiche has a long list of Cuban coffee drinks, made with the exclusive Café Cubano Blend by Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Ideal Meal: Picadillo empanada, Oxtail on Fire, Lime in the Coconut Cake

Vegetarian Friendly: Yes

Vegan Friendly: Yes

Good for the following occasions: Meal With Friends, Family Meal, Casual Date, Hanging Out With People Who Like Bright Colors

Group/Private Party Details: Pambiche caters, and also sells whole desserts and wedding cakes

Reservations: No

Take-Out: Yes

Delivery: No