El Siboney | Review

El Siboney Cuban Restaurant
El Siboney Cuban Restaurant

El Siboney is located on Catherine Street in Key West, and while it does have parking on site, you will probably have to find street parking nearby because this place is almost always packed and the limited parking gets filled up fast. This is my favorite Cuban restaurant on the island, but with some major caveats.

They serve up some of the best Cuban grub I have ever tried, but the service can be downright horrendous as with my last visit here. Also keep in mind that this is the furthest place from fancy that I can think of; our local McDonald’s has a better decor, but again, you come here for the food and for no other reason.  If you go here with that in mind and order a traditional Cuban dish I don’t think that  you will be disappointed.

Don’t expect to be seated right away if you come during the dinner rush; the staff will seat you once a table clears out. I have never had to wait more than about 20 minutes for a table. Once seated a basket of warm Cuban bread and butter is brought out and if you are anything like me, you will devour it immediately and be begging for more. To drink, I normally order a carafe of Sangria which is slightly sweet and perfectly delicious. But they also have a good selection of beers, wines and soft drinks, my personal favorite being pineapple soda.

Once you order your food will be brought out very quickly. The plates are loaded piled high and prices are very reasonable. Four of us can dine here for around $60 and that is amazing in Key West! I have eaten my entire plate of food before, but I always end up regretting it because it is really too much for one person to eat, so I generally will ask for a box when I get my food and put half in a to go container and then I can enjoy it for lunch the next day! Here is a rundown of my favorite dishes…

Roast Pork – delicious shredded pork seasoned with mojo and covered in onions is served with your choice of white or yellow rice, black beans, and plantains. The pork is always tender and never dried out. I love mixing the beans and rice together. And I always end up eating my husband’s plantains as he does not care for them, but they are sweet, tender, and delicious.

Picadillo – this a ground beef mixed with spices, tomatoes, peppers, and olives and served with  your choice of white or yellow rice, black beans, and plantains. While it does not look particularly appetizing on the plate, but all of the flavors meld perfectly with one another and make for a different and delicious meal.

Ropa Vieja – literally, this means old clothes. But it is really just shredded beef mixed with peppers, tomatoes, and other seasonings. This is also served with your choice of white or yellow rice, black beans, and plantains. Again, the beef is very tender and juicy from the sauces that they cook it in.

There are so many other options on the menu if none of these sound to your liking such as soups, steak, liver, chicken, shrimp, and fish. However, I always find that it is best to order what a place specializes in, so I always get a traditional Cuban dish and stay away from steak and seafood options. I have tried my friends’ food when they order something other than the norm for me and I am always happy that I stuck to my guns. They also serve a paella, but I have never tried this here because it takes an hour to prepare and I can never wait that long to eat.

A bunch of us ate here on Monday evening, and while we all enjoyed our food, with the exception of one of us who ordered stuffed shrimp (not something to order at a Cuban restaurant), the service was the worst we have ever experienced here.

We got there very early so we were lucky enough to get a parking spot and get seated right away. The staff was obviously prepping for the dinner rush, and a woman that spoke little to no English was walking from table to table, literally throwing the packets of silverware onto each of the tables. The noise was very annoying and the woman had a scowl on her face the entire time. When the same woman brought over the bread, we were just happy that she did not throw that at us.

Our waitress was friendly, but she certainly did not go out of her way to help us. At least she smiled when she stopped by our table, which was very infrequently. We ran out of bread and asked for more which was never delivered to us, and we also ran out of drinks several times, and I had to interrupt the incessant conversations that the staff were having with one another in front of our table to ask them to please refill our glasses.

I know that after this last experience with the service, it will be difficult if not impossible to get this crew to go back. And to be honest, if the food was not good and affordable to boot I would not want to go back either.

Before deciding where you are going to eat while visiting Key West, be sure to read my other restaurant reviews; check out our restaurant review section of this blog as well as our previous restaurant reviews.

And to see what is happening on the island during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.

Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!

Island Genn
Key West Concierge

About the author: Island Genn

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