Attention roast pork lovers, we’ve got some seriously exciting news for you. Vegetarians – look away!
Starting Monday, June 8, and throughout the summer, Cuba Libre Philadelphia is inviting you to pig out, literally, on UNLIMITED portions of roasted pork (done authentically with a Caja China box) which will be cooked low and slow all-day long outside of the restaurant on 2nd Street. As if all you can eat roast pig is not incentive enough for you, there’s also white rice, black beans, fresh salad and perfectly grilled Cuban bread to complete your AYCE meal.
On Monday, we were invited to Old City’s long-standing Cuba Libre Restaurant, which has been on 2nd Street for an impressive 15 years, to feast on succulent roast pig. We accepted the invitation with gusto! All-you-can-eat roast pork? That’s a hell yes! Don’t have to ask us twice. Not to mention it had been a few years since both of us had been to Cuba Libre and we were overdue for a visit.
The evening couldn’t have been more perfect. The weather was a bit, shall we say, tropical. It was somewhat stormy; overcast and rainy. But this did not deter us from our mission for delicious pork.
When we arrived, we were quickly seated and greeted by Mark, the manager-on-duty. He gave us the run down on how the all-you-can-eat thing worked that evening. Basically, you sit down, order the special and they start bringing out the food. Easy enough. In the blink of an eye, our server, Justin, came to the table to take our drink order. He offered a variety of premium waters, but we opted for tap water and perused the cocktail menu.
We decided on a traditional “Zombie” — which is a mix of Don Q Cristal, Gold Anejo and 151 Rums, falernum, pineapple juice, lime juice, lemon juice, and guarapo (sugar cane juice). It was really good!
As well as a “Margarito” — which is basically half Margarita/half Mojito. It’s a classic mojito with a margarita twist. Exodo Orange Tequila, lemongrass syrup, orange juice, lime juice and TONS of Cuban mint. This was absolutely off-the-charts amazing and one of my new favorite drinks! I would go back just to drink a pitcher of this… myself.
While alcoholic drinks ARE exciting, lovely, delicious and alcoholic… we couldn’t wait to receive the star of the whole shebang…the roast pig!
We were NOT disappointed! They brought out an extremely generous portion on a large white platter to start us off; talk about a stunning, but minimalist display of delectable pig meat. I mean what more do you need? Well, that answer will come…
The first thing hubby got his paws on was the… you guessed it… the pig skin aka chicharrones! Just at that moment, almost like clockwork (eh?), Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernod came over to our table to say hello and answer any questions we might have about our meal. Naturally, hubby spoke lovingly of the cracklins/crispy pig skin, to which Chef Guillermo responded and I’m paraphrasing of course, “Yes, everyone wants chicharrones. It’s the best part!” Well said and we couldn’t disagree. Unf.
As soon as Chef Guillermo departed, we got down to business. We didn’t even touch the accompaniments which were brought to the table at the same time – the perfectly cooked white rice with green onions, black beans, or artistically constructed and tartly-dressed with red wine vinaigrette salad.
We were all about that pig. It had exceeded our expectations. It was juicy and full of flavor. You can tell it was cooked with care. They did it justice.
Once we overcame our initial happy-shock of delicious succulent pig, we sampled the accompanying sauces that came with it — a traditional Cuban sour orange mojo and a fresh, herb-drenched chimichurri. I could have bathed in (or literally drank) the piquant mojo sauce. I poured copious amounts on my pork.
We pretty much polished off the whole platter of pork before we touched the sides.
The white rice, black beans (just off the picture above) and fresh salad really did complete the meal, though.
As soon as we polished everything off they offered up more. I was almost ready to call “No Mas!” but I was like “what the infierno… bring it on!”
So let’s talk about the perfectly Grilled Cuban Bread shall we? As if this meal isn’t decadent enough, there’s carbs… glorious carbs. GRILLED BREAD. Think about and let that sink in…. or take a look below…
This grilled Cuban bread, an entree in of itself really, will throw ANYBODY over the top, but what makes this offering the death knell of your foodie heart is the accompanying Caja China roasted pork “gravy” (smooth & buttery drippings from the pig-cooking process) and MANGO BUTTER. Yes, you read that right… MANGO BUTTER.
Prior to this recent dining experience at Cuba Libre, I would have never said it would be a life-changing event, but it was. If you would have said it would have been over butter… I might have winked and nodded. But MANGO BUTTER? I would have called you absurd and laughed in your face. Absurdity aside, sad but true in this case, mango butter changed my life.
See that picture above? I couldn’t help myself, before I photographed it, I played around with it with the butter knife, not knowing what to expect. I mean I know butter; I know mango – but the two together? It just seemed unusual and foreign to me. But the best, most welcome and unexpected surprise ever. It was a burst of luscious wonderfulness in my mouth. Before it hit my tongue, I thought I would find mashed up or pulpy mango but apparently/maybe they puree the mango, mix it with whipped butter and make a compound butter that is perfect to spread on the grilled bread. It really is amazing. You really have to try this!
I’m telling you this, because I experienced it first-hand, and honestly I’m not normally this verbose in my reviews; but this is one of those “one-of-a-kind” foodie experiences in Philadelphia you have to check out. Not only do you get a great value ($25/person for AYCE) but the food is top-notch, expertly prepared-on-premises, authentic and presented elegantly in this beautiful restaurant. Cuba Libre does “Caja China” Latin-style roast pig in Philadelphia right.
As a parting gift from Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernod, we received a jar of “Cuba Libre Seasoning.” This proprietary seasoning is what made the pork so delectable. We were honored to receive it and look forward to using it on our own pork tenderloins.
What can we say? It was a feast for the senses… taste, sight, touch, and smell. If you’re looking for something different to do on Monday nights (starting 6/8) or simply looking to get your money’s worth of carefully and wonderfully prepared Latin cuisine… Cuba Libre Philadelphia’s All-You-Can-Eat Pig Roast is where it is at.
If you go, please note that pitchers of seasonal Grilled White Peach Sangria’s are $5 off. Take advantage of that!
Let us know if you go and what you think!!!
The Doyenne of Dining in Philadelphia and South Jersey.