In Cuba, small family-owned restaurants that serve Cuban home-style food are known as “paladares.” Here at Paladar Café Cubano, we bring that tradition to San Francisco. Maria Victoria Khan and Rita Albrades, two friends and business associates, opened Paladar Café Cubano in 2007. Rita had previously owned Charanga Restaurant in the Mission District. At Paladar, Vicky and Rita honor their Cuban and Colombian backgrounds with Latin flavors, generous hospitality, and a blend of modern innovation and Latin American traditions.
Cuban cuisine blends the food traditions of African, Spanish and the Caribbean Taino cultures. Each contributed their own special flavors.
The Taino people brought yucca, beans and other local crops. From the Spanish came rice, pork, tortillas and spices. From Africa came plantains and deep fried foods. Traditional Cuban food is often marinated in mojo, a blend of garlic, olive oil and citrus, and slow roasted or sautéed. See why “SF Weekly” called our food “the real deal” and named our Cuban sandwiches the best in town.
Paladar is a lunchtime hot spot in the Financial District. The small, cozy dining space is decorated with Caribbean colors and lively with Latin music. A small outdoor area offers sidewalk seating. Hungry office workers, artists and locals start to line up at 10 a.m. for the Cuban sandwiches, hot, toasted sandwiches of ham, mojo-marinated roast Niman ranch pork, melted Swiss cheese, mustard and tangy pickles on fresh baguettes. Or try the Picadillo Cubano Estillo Elena, spicy ground beef seasoned with onions, green peppers, tomatoes, garlic, herbs and raisins, served with sweet fried plantains and fluffy white rice.
For an appetizer, go for the yucca frita, a Cuban staple, with chunks of cassava root deep-fried until crispy and dipped in spicy chipotle aioli. And be sure to save room for dessert so you can enjoy our creamy flan and a Cuban cortadito, a Cuban twist on the espresso macchiato. Or go for a café con leche or Mexican Coca Cola. As San Franciscans, we support local sustainable agriculture and use as many organic products as we can. Stop by for lunch Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.