First at El Oriental de Cuba

May 16th, 2009 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Many love El Oriental de Cuba in Jamaica Plain’s Hyde Square…except….

…you can’t get a damned seat. The medium-sized Cuban restaurant is so popular that you had best bring a friend to chat up or a book to read while you wait.

My Boston City Councilor, John Tobin, is among those who lament being able to visit, to smell the spicy and sweet glories of the comida cubana there, but not sit down. As Steve Garfield’s video blog shows, he was among the many celebrating a reopening after being inexplicably firebombed. John’s picture is on the wall with other celebrities and politicians, but he still would have to wait. Lunch or supper, there’s a line.

Cost center two and I solved that for us this morning though.  We were the first two customers.

As has been my wont for 29½ years, I headed to the Haymarket.  He’s back from his freshman year at college and likes to go too. When he was younger, there was a diner-like restaurant there on North Street, Mike’s, where we’d have breakfast as well. That’s yet another small and soulless Dunkin’ now. We have to head down to Vicky’s in Dot or one of several diners in South Boston.

Today, after gathering the vegetables and fruits, I needed some Hispanic goods and headed to Hi Lo in Hyde Square.  I figured a mixed neighborhood with Hispanic and WASPy types would have breakfast places. I knew Sorella’s was there, but that’s a deal and often crowded at opening.

We were out of Hi Lo with our necessities a few minutes before 8 a.m. and looked catercorner at El Oriental. Hot damn, the front door was open.

We strolled in, commenting to each other on the door paint that reads that it opens at 8 a.m. We really hadn’t paid attention on previous visits.

The waitress was not there, but they didn’t shoo us. Instead, we started with a malta for him and a café cubana for me. We ordered from the tiny breakfast section, forgoing our usual Cuban sandwiches, plantains and other more standard fare. He had a chorizo omelet and I a veggy one, each on smashed Cuban bread. We rained own the red and habenaro hot sauces.

When the coffee arrived, the elderly man said that it was (he searched for the precise English) very, very strong. I could get a cup big cup of regular coffee if I wanted it. I didn’t and reveled in the bitterness and thickness.

Regardless, my son and I don’t mind being the only customers in a restaurant or in having lunch at breakfast. By the time we finished, two Latinas took a table. They didn’t seem to mind either. I thought of asking if they came in part because they knew they could get a seat before 8:30 a.m. I suspect that was unspoken.

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