Cuba’s Cooking, food, drink, music & ambiente caliente

Cuba’s Cookin’ has been making perfect Mojitos since opening day in 1999,  mixing authentic Havana Club Cuban rum with mint leaves, muddled in the glass with sugar, topped with club soda and crushed ice, long before the cocktail became a global favorite.

Those Mojitos go down smooth, and combine so nicely with the music, the art work on the walls, the hearty food and the friendly ambiance, which is genuine Cuban.

The little hide-away on Wilhelminastraat dedicated to the promotion of Cuban culture in Aruba, is the creation of Douglass Markus, originally from Montreal Canada, who escaped the winters of his native land to settle in Aruba, more than two decades ago.

While he was busy making a new life in the tropics, he found himself the proud owner of an extensive Cuban art collection which he had nowhere public to display. His home was already decked from floor to ceiling. Then the restaurant idea just came to him naturally, when he looked at the charming old cunucu house adjacent to his office, already located on Wilhelminastraat. Thus Cuba’s Cookin’ was conceived, a place where friends may meet to eat and drink and sing and dance, in the spirit of the Malecon in Havana, the sea boulevard where Habaneros convene to celebrate life.

Aldo in the kitchen provides the culinary talent serving Cuba’s best-loved dishes, Ropa Vieja, Picadillo and Lobster Enchilada, which is Cuba’s greatest contribution to the culinary world. Aldo also recently spearheaded the kitchen’s expansion which allowed him space for a large grill prompting him to introduce a complete grill-menu featuring daily fresh catch, escorted by shrimp and the world’s best fried plantain, with traditional black beans and white rice besides many more Caribbean soul dishes, and a delicious selection of Nuevo Latino entrees.

A new dining area followed the kitchen refresh. El Jardin, the just-opened garden room of the restaurant features more of the Douglass’ art collection and is a perfectly romantic spot for the lovers in the house.

Music is one of Cuba’s Cookin’ best features. Ramon.  Ramon is the orchestra. A one man band. The talented Cuban troubadour delivers excellent renditions of classic Cuban love songs, and his fingers strum salsa, rumba, mambo and Latin contemporary tunes, as he melodiously sings the night away.

For the English portion of the evening Douglass falls in as the Tambourine Man, giving Brown Eyed Girl, Cotton Fields Back Home and Stand by Me Diana a new life. A roomful of patrons on maracas and noisemakers joins him and Ramon for the chorus. Then surprise, Svenja, the beautiful waitress, pays homage to Killing me Softly, and Stand by Me, she certainly is a budding talent.

Wrapping the total experience up, he dining room staff, the girls in the Cuban puff sleeves and full raffled skirts add flair to any of Aldo’s entrees, when they join the party dancing between courses, showing off the Rhythm in their blood.

Cuba’s Cookin’ is truly a place with a Cuban Para Servirle attitude, eager to please and entertain, besides boasting the best matzo ball soup on the planet, mom’s recipe, Douglass explains!