Northshore residents should feel lucky. Not only has the growth of the wine, brewery and distillery businesses in the area made for great day trip outings, the choices in dining are continuing to expand as restaurateurs realize people with diverse beverage palates also appreciate diverse cuisines.
The newest entry into the cuisine category is Cuban, offered by Twisted Cuban Café. The café, located at 12631 NE Woodinville Drive in Woodinville, operates as The Twisted Café, a classic deli by day until 4 p.m. that does offer Cuban sandwiches, but at 5 p.m. the menu switches to authentic Cuban food that is served until midnight Monday through Saturday.
Owner Julio Ortiz was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. He came to the United States when he was 24 years old and started working in the restaurant industry in New York City. He has owned The Twisted Cafe since 2009. It was with the encouragement of his customers that he developed a dinner menu offering authentic Cuban food. Since opening up the deli to dinner service in early July, Ortiz said business has been steady.
"My regular customers during the day have become my customers in the evening," he said.
Cuban food has a flavorful blend of spices, but it is not spicy. Cuban recipes use spices, flavors and cooking techniques from several cultures including Spain, Africa and surrounding Caribbean Islands.
For Ortiz, each authentic Cuban dish is special because they are his mom’s recipes. Maria del Carmen gave her son the recipes and taught him how to make each dish before she passed away five years ago. Diners can enjoy Cuban favorites like tostones (fried plantains), maduros (sweet plantains), lechón asado (roast pork), Moro rice and more.
"The most popular dinner item we serve has to be the lechón asado," said Ortiz.
The menu also has vegetarian and gluten-free choices, said Ortiz. He quickly learned he needed to offer vegetarian choices when diners asked for them, even though the Cuban diet is meat-based.
"We like to work with our customers so our menu is very flexible. We want our customers to be happy," Ortiz explained.
The restaurant has an outdoor patio in front where diners can relax and enjoy a Cuban mojito, along with a full selection of spirits, wine and beer. The full menu is available on the café’s website: twistedcubancafe.com.
The café also offers catering that can include pig roasts –the traditional Cuban feast. Ortiz says he can roast the pig on-site for a customer’s event or bring it already roasted and ready to serve.